(side 1)See other side
In 1892, John Crews Pelot deeded this 200 x 400 square foot parcel of land to Manatee County for the sum of $200.00. The land was cleared at a cost of $62.50, and a new courthouse, the first in "Braidentown" and the county's third county seat was built. The first county seat was the village of Manatee and the first courthouse which was constructed in 1860 may be seen in the Manatee Village Historical Park. Pine Level, now in DeSoto County, became the second county seat in 1866. That courthouse, a small log structure, was once classified as "Florida's worst" and has since been destroyed.
After "Braidentown" became the county seat, court was temporarily held in the E.M. Graham house (later known as Gaar House) on Bradenton's Old Main Street and in Judge Cornwell's old school house. Later, the first permanent courthouse, a wooden structure, was built. While this courthouse was in use, a small brick building was built on the property's west side to house the clerk's office and the jail. This was the site of the first county hanging in 1905.
The present courthouse building was begun in early 1913. The single courthouse and jail facility cost $97,443, and was built of reinforced concrete and brick by Falls City Construction Company.
from other side
The building originally had a cupola on the roof which was removed in 1920 when general repairs were undertaken.
Two large steel cells were added to the jail in 1918, and in 1925 the first major addition was made to the building. The need for more space was again recognized in 1954 when a significant addition was made by extending the building to the south. In 1975, the Board of County Commissioners voted to hire an architect to design a new annex and jail. This multi-storied structure, located on property purchased east of the courthouse square, was completed in 1984. It was dedicated as the Hensley Public Safety Complex in honor of Judge Robert E. Hessley of the Twelfth Circuit Court.
For many years, there was a fountain and a pool at the north entrance to the courthouse which contained live alligators. It was replaced by a wishing well. Th north side of the square has been set aside for monuments honoring Confederate Veterans, Vietnam War dead, Hernando De Soto, and the footprints of Manatee County's distinguished citizens who are selected annually.