Decatur History: Tearing Down the DeKalb Courthouse

I can’t republish the photo here because of copyright protections, but there’s a great photograph from 1898, showing the deconstruction of the DeKalb Courthouse built in 1843, on the Atlanta History Center’s online photo collection.  The courthouse was replaced with the larger version we know today (though I believe the current building is the second iteration of that building, as the first was destroyed by fire).

Note that the building is clearly being dismantled with reuse of the materials in mind, instead of an outright demolition.  Old school reuse!

Also of note: the gentleman waving on the roof.

h/t for the site: Pecanne Log

5 thoughts on “Decatur History: Tearing Down the DeKalb Courthouse”


  1. If the photo is from 1898 it cannot have copyright protection. I believe anything before 1922 is public domain.

  2. Great Picture! I have never seen anything like it. I have always wondered if the “front” of the 1843 courthouse faced south or north? I believe that a similar courthouse structure is still in use somewhere in south Georgia.
    The picture reminded me of an article I sometimes share with my students. These was a proposal in the June 19, 1963 Decatur DeKalb News (paper) showing “an artist’s conception of how Decatur might look after improvements (to the court square) were made”. In the drawing, the courthouse is replaced by an outdoor mall similar to the original malls at Lenox Square, Columbia, and N. DeKalb. The article states, “For the people who want to come to Decatur, we want to make it easy for them to get here and make them enjoy shopping here. We also want to make it easier for the others to get around Decatur (through the street plan and connectors). Phase 3 of the plan would see all streets in the downtown area (Church, Clairemont, Marshall) into mall-type areas. This probably wouldn’t come until after the Stone Mountain Expressway was completed and rapid transit was in the works. Under phase 3, Ponce de Leon would be closed off as a through traffic artery, and traffic diverted around the downtown area.” Wow! Can anyone imagine downtown Decatur without the courthouse or the Masonic building? Thank goodness Decatur had a few hardheaded, traditionally minded citizens who refused accept the proposals of the so-called “progressive” city planners of the 1960s.

    1. Do you have the “artist conception” image? that would be really interesting to see!

      On the website I found other aerials from 1946 of Decatur with single family homes where the CVS and where the 10 story modern building is…

      How did they get all those people to sell? was there a battle? I cant imagine the city saying “your house is mine now…sucks to be you”

Comments are closed.