The Madison County Courthouse in Marshall North Carolina was built in 1907 but Marshall had been the county seat since 1855. Construction of the courthouse started in 1906 under the supervision of Richard Sharp Smith most famously known for his influence and design of the Biltmore Estate. Marshall’s courthouse is in the center of town on Main Street overlooking the French Broad River. The land for the courthouse and the town were donated by the Vance family, nearly fifty acres were given to the growth of the town and the county.
The Madison county
Court house was erected in 1907 in the town of Marshall. Marshall had been the
county seat for over fifty years before the first courthouse was built. The
county had had a debate in 1851 when the county was created on where the county
seat should be. The town of Marshall lost to the town of Jewel Hill by one
vote. Jewel Hill held the seat for four years before another vote was taken to
move it to Marshall. Jewel Hill still housed the courts and county government
for another four years while the first Marshall Courthouse was being built. In
1859 Marshall took on its role as the full county seat of Madison.
Amongst the triumph of
winning the county seat Marshall had gone through a name change. The legislator
of the county had passed laws forbidding the county seat from being within two
miles of the French broad river. This helped keep the seat away from Marshall
in the 1851 vote. But at that time the town of Marshall was called Lapland. The
name Lapland was changed to Marshall to Honor the Supreme Court judge John
Marshall. Lapland fell to history as the new town of Marshall began to grow
with lands being donated to its expansion by the David Vance family.
The Court House itself
was built by Richard Sharp Smith, who also was the head architect for the
Vanderbilt family and designed and built the Biltmore Estate. Smith built this
courthouse as a gesture by a past employer. Smith had built the J. H. White
house overlooking the courthouse four years prior. Mr. White mentioned Smith in
the vote and was chosen to build on a piece of land overlooking the French
Broad River. The Court house is a two story “Neo-Classical Revival brick
structure”. The stories are split using the court rooms on the second floor
while the office and records room used up the first. The building cost $30,000
to build but has been voted on as one of the most impressive courthouses in the
state due to the cupola. The cupola is a four stage polygonal structure with
clocks on each imposing face. Above the clocks is a lantern to signify the
status of a blind justice.