“Courthouse treasures” saved from demolition

It’s been a hot topic in our area for several years, until just this last February when the 1858 Mitchell County Courthouse was demolished.

But, before the more than 150-year old structure was torn down, a local group was able to go through the building and save several artifacts.

Many people in Mitchell County were sad to see the old courthouse be demolished in February.

But thanks to the county’s historic preservation association, memories from the courthouse will still live on through what they call “Courthouse Treasures.”

Zerck worked at the Mitchell County Courthouse for many years of her life.

She shows KIMT News 3 the cannonball safe she used for 16 years when she was county treasurer.

“It was where we put our money every night to lock it away and  there’s a timer on here that you had to turn with a key,” she explains.

The safe is one of several items that were saved before the courthouse was demolished. Zerck, along with other former employees and members of the community got the chance to see some of these artifacts first hand at an exhibit called “Courthouse Treasures.”

“It’s sort of a way to remember the courthouse with joy and good times, and the celebrations that many people shared there from our area. Weddings, there were weddings in the courthouse, many, many parties in the courthouse,” says Penney Morse, who is the president of the Mitchell County Historic Preservation Association.

When she learned the courthouse would in fact be torn down, she made an appeal to the County Board of Supervisors to go in and identify artifacts and other items, items that are sending former employees like Zerck down memory lane.

“I think it’s very nice, it’s very interesting having gone through some of the scrap books and remembering who was here and they’re not here anymore,” adds Zerck.

Of the many artifacts recovered from the building were small items that were discovered by a janitor in the building’s crawl space.

Also saved; signed beams that helped to hold the building together.

“We have community members whose ancestors cut the wood and carried the bricks. They have diaries of their efforts to cut down trees, to hew the wood and make the courthouse. I think it ties us to our past,” adds Morse.

She hopes the pictures, old maps, and random treasures, can all help to keep the memory of the Mitchell County Courthouse alive.

“It was a very iconic building. I think one of the more charming courthouses in the state. I think we need to remember where we came from to know where we’re going.”

If you missed the exhibit Saturday, the plan is to hold another sometime early next month.

Morse hopes at some point they can come up with a more permanent way of displaying the items.

The courthouse had to be demolished because the building was unsafe.

The plan is to build a new structure in the same place.

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