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Coffee County History/Courthouse



Pre-1855 to Present

Wherever a community arises there is always a need for law and order. And so it was with the first settlers of Coffee County. After the arrival of several families, a group of settlers met in a private residence near present-day West Green, Ga. to hold "court". This first meeting of "court" was held very near to the site of Lone Hill United Methodist Church. At that time this location was practically in the center of Coffee County.
In later years around 1855 or 1858, the settlers built a log structure to be used for the purpose of public meetings and "court". This was the first actual building to be used for a courthouse. It was a simple log structure with a few benches and a judge's seat. A clerk's office was added to this structure at a later time. The settlers used this building not only for court but as a general gathering place and for church meetings. It's location was in the downtown area of Douglas, east of the present courthouse.
As population grows so do the needs of the people So in 1889 another courthouse was constructed. Again it was a log structure, located where the present courthouse is located today. Mr. B. Peterson bought this building for $350.00 and donated it to the Methodist Church. However, in 1898 the structure was destroyed by fire.
Once again the county was in need of a courthouse. This time the pioneers decided to spend a little of their hard earned money. Bids were taken and T.C. Thompson and Brothers were the successful bidders at a cost of $14, 695.00 Construction was started and later halted for 8 weeks due to an error in the bids. Supposedly, the officials had not followed the legal steps for acquiring the bids. To rectify their mistake, construction stopped until advertising for the bids was completed according to law. Again T.C. Thompson and Brothers were the successful ones. This Victorian Architecture courthouse was completed in January 1900 at a final cost of $15,000. The first courthouse to have lights and water. Fire engulfed another of Coffee County's courthouses on Nov. 25, 1938. The courthouse was completely destroyed with the exception of it's records and the bell which hung in the tower.
The next courthouse was built in 1940 on the site and a part of the present courthouse. In the past few years a local option sales tax was passed in order to construct a new courthouse. The decision was made to use the 1940 structure and the Douglas Infirmary as a part of the new construction. The 1940 courthouse faces Peterson Ave., while the Douglas Infirmary faces West Ward Street.

Sources: Ward's History of Coffee County

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Melody Moore McCook/Douglas/Georgia

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