EDENTON, NC July 21, 2014 – Even in a town’s earliest days, there is a need for rules and justice. An archaeological investigation at the 1767 Chowan Courthouse Green July 28 to 31 will search for the town’s first courthouse, built in 1718.
“We know there was a courthouse,” says Assistant State Archaeologist John Mintz. “We will try to determine the exact location.”
Mintz will work with Shawn Patch from New South and Associates, to investigate the site. Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) will be used to determine the best place to undertake the archaeological excavation and how deep to explore. The GPR readings will determine where the work is done. After completing the excavation the Courthouse Green will be carefully restored to its original beauty. A generous donation from Piedmont Natural Gas to Chowan County makes this investigation possible.
“Documents tell us that the 1718 courthouse was a wooden frame building, roofed with shingles and plastered inside, built at a cost of £287,” Site Manager Karen Ipock explains. She says there is a description of the building from visiting Virginia aristocrat William Byrd. “After a visit to Edenton in 1728, Byrd observed, ‘Justice herself is but indifferently Lodged, the courthouse having much the air of a Common Tobacco-House.'”
Work was done on the original courthouse into the 1750s, so it probably stood until the new courthouse was constructed and opened in 1767. Additional information will benefit the site, the Town of Edenton and Chowan County.
“It would be nice to know more about how the original building functioned, the exact site and size, and about the foundation,” Ipock continues. “We know the Courthouse Green has always been a center of activity where the militia drilled, markets were set up on court days, and town gatherings were held, so we hope for evidence of these activities as well.”
For more information, please contact Site Manager Karen Ipock at (252) 482-2637. Historic Edenton is within the Division of State Historic Sites in the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.