published Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Sequatchie County Courthouse turns 100 years old

Corrina Sisk-Casson, Correspondent
Officials and local residents recently marked the 100th birthday of the Sequatchie County Courthouse in Dunlap, Tenn.
Officials and local residents recently marked the 100th birthday of the Sequatchie County Courthouse in Dunlap, Tenn.
Photo by Ben Benton.

DUNLAP, Tenn. -- A lot has changed in Sequatchie County in 100 years.

There were only four registered cars back then, and most people rode horses to get around. Today, 14,000 people live in the county.

County officials and area residents recently visited the Sequatchie County Courthouse during an open house marking the 100th anniversary of that building, built in 1911 for $12,000 on the corner of Main and Cherry streets. The building, remodeled under historical restrictions in 1986, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

"It turned out very nice, and we're proud of it," said Charlotte Cagle, Sequatchie County clerk.

The Sequatchie County Commission recognized the need for expansion because people bound for the clerk's office were congesting the front area of the building. In 1986, an addition was built that included room for the county executive and clerk's offices, a meeting room, bathrooms downstairs and a small courtroom and offices upstairs.

The original exterior of the building still can be seen in the back next to where people get license plates.

Several officials have offices inside the courthouse, including the trustee, assessor of property, county clerk, county executive and clerk and master. County Executive Claude Lewis said it's important for a community to have a central place to which to turn.

"It's a place for the public to come and talk to elected officials," he said. "It amazes me all the transactions that has gone on all these years."

The property on which the courthouse sits originally was part of William Rankin's land along Coops Creek. Rankin donated the land for the county seat, according to historical records. The Rankin Home, built in 1852 and now renovated, stands across the street from the courthouse.

Cagle said that the courthouse's turning 100 shows how the county maintains its originality and that it is a stable place to live.

"We're very fortunate to have a nice building and the people who work here," she said. "It's important to celebrate the endurance of a good community."

The courthouse once was the only place where trials and court cases were held. The county's justice center handles the bulk of those cases now, but the courthouse still hosts high-profile and bigger cases, 7th District County Commissioner Ray Hobbs said.

"We've had all kinds of things happen here," Cagle said. "We've seen a lot."

Corrina Sisk-Casson is based in Dunlap, Tenn. She may be reached at corrinacasson1@aol.com.

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