The Northampton County Court Green is one of the earliest and most complete in Virginia. It includes outstanding examples of early court buildings as well as later structures reflecting the continuity of government in Eastville for well over 300 years. The area is listed as a Historic District on both the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.
Northampton County and the Northampton Branch, APVA Preservation Virginia, have worked together to restore and interpret the Green in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the 1607 Jamestown Settlement. Major funding for this effort was provided by the Norfolk Foundation.
The Eastern Shore of Virginia formed one of the eight original shires, or counties, of the Virginia colony. Captain John Smith explored this region in 1608, and Jamestown residents created a salt works here in 1614. By 1620, a permanent English settlement had been established near the peninsula's southern tip and local commissioners had been appointed by 1632.
In 1677, with population advancing northward, the area known as the Hornes, now called Eastville, was selected as Northampton's county seat. The court met in private homes and taverns until 1690, when a courthouse was built on the Green. It is here that the oldest continuous county court records in the United States, dating to 1632, have been maintained.
Insert with visiting hours and diagram.
A. Confederate Monument. The memorial was created in 1913, as inscribed.
B. 1731 Courthouse. Initially located on the site of the Confederate Monument, this is one of only a handful of colonial courthouses that survive in Virginia, despite extensive alterations and threatened demolition. In 1913, the building was rescued and moved to its present location through the efforts of local preservationists who later formed the Northampton Branch, APVA Preservation Virginia. Visitors to the courthouse will find a scale model showing its 1731 design as well as an original raised-panel bookpress.
C. Clerk's Office. This building is a rare example of an early clerk's office with a fire-resistant paved stone floor and vaulted masonry ceiling. The structure has been dated to the second half of the 18th century, possibly as late as 1800. It remains largely unchanged and is furnished as it appeared in an early photograph.
D. Debtors' Prison. This prison (ca. 1815) has been called the state's best remaining example of its type and is essentially unchanged. Its durable brick construction features a heavy door, double-barred windows and hand-wrought spiked nails. Interior furnishings, much like those on display, were limited to a straw pallet, wooden stool and chamberpot.
E. Jail Complex. This four-square neo-colonial building (ca. 1913) replaced earlier facilities.
F. 1899 Courthouse. Designed in the then-popular Romanesque Revival style, this building served the County for the entire 20th century. In 2006, the court and its records were moved to the new complex to the west and behind this Green.
G. Lawyers' Row. These neo-colonial and vernacular offices were built between 1820 and 1985. They have been occupied principally by attorneys serving the court.
H. Old Brick Store. Dating to ca 1810, this classic store's second floor front door allowed merchants to hoist goods directly into storage areas. It has been used as a private office since the 1990's.
I. The Eastville Inn. This building is one of the few surviving early courthouse taverns in Virginia, with the southernmost section dating to the late 18th century. Enlarged and modified over the years, the Inn continued to offer food and lodging until the 1950's. Following major renovations funded by a Federal grant, it was rededicated in 2000 as a visitor center offering restaurant service and exhibit space.
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