York General District Court
300 Ballard Street, Yorktown, VA, USA
www.yorkcounty.gov/CountyGov… - (757) 890-3450
York General District Court Yorktown Reviews
A Brief History of the Courthouses of Yorktown May 11, 2015
The official name is the York General District Court, but it is commonly known as the York-Poquoson Courthouse, serving York County and the City of Poquoson. This current courthouse was built between 1995-1997 in the Modern Colonial Revival style. The front of this two story red colored brick and concrete structure faces northeast, with spacious grounds surrounding it. The northeast front has an octagonal red colored brick portico with large arches. Behind the portico is an octagonal section rising above the roof line with high white colored cupola and green colored dome. The main section of the building runs east and west. It is an attractive building for a courthouse with classic colonial style. No cameras allowed inside the courthouse.
"It is hereby enacted that an house suitable and fitt to hold courts in and as bigg in dimension att least as the present court house now is, be errected built and finished within the said limitts of York Towne" ~ Virginia General Assembly, Laws of Virginia, September 1696
Early in York County's history, private homes were used for courthouses. Five years after Yorktown's founding, the colonial legislature authorized the construction of a permanent courthouse. While the location for the courthouse remained the same for 300 years; fire, war and the need to improve courthouse facilities resulted in five courthouse buildings on this site. In the Colonial period, court day was usually a major social event. It was an opportunity for people from the surrounding area to visit Yorktown, take care of local government business, witness trials and punishment, purchase goods from town merchants, and catch up on news.
The first courthouse in Yorktown was built in 1697. The second courthouse was built in 1733. The third courthouse was built in 1814. The fourth courthouse was built in 1875. The fifth courthouse constructed in 1955 resembles the design of the second courthouse. The sixth and present one was built at a nearby location and the old courthouse, now called York Hall, was left standing and renovated for other purposes.
A Brief History of the Courthouses in Yorktown is as follows:
1697 - The first courthouse located in Yorktown was built at the insistence of the citizens of the County and the Virginia Assembly. Located at the corner of Ballard and Main Streets, the structure was built of frame and marl with a shingle roof.
1733 - Because of population growth, the second structure, build of brick, was constructed. It was destroyed in a fire on March 3, 1814 which devastated much of the town.
1818 - The third courthouse was erected. Forty-five years later it was blown off its foundation by an explosion of Union Army gunpowder stored in its chambers during the civil War. The explosion of December 16, 1863 also destroyed the record office, jail and the nearby Swan Tavern. All County records dating back to 1633 were saved by the Clerk of York County, who had stored them in an icehouse until the end of the war.
1876 - In August 1875, the York County Board of Supervisors accepted a bid of $5,865 to build the forth courthouse. A two-story brick rectangular-shaped structure was constructed with chimneys dominating each side. A chimney fire gutted the structure on December 31, 1940
1955 - The fifth courthouse was the largest to be sited at the corner of Main and Ballard Streets and was designated to resemble the second courthouse. The structure was remnamed York Hall in 1999 and renovated for meeting space for York County Boards and Commissions and to house other community activities.
1997 - The courthouse was relocated to this new 64,000 square foot facility 300 years after the first courthouse was built in Yorktown.
Part of the Virginia perspectives (1990 - present) travel blog
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