Florida History Essay

Submitted By bcarlton8
Words: 1276
Pages: 6

The Charlotte County Courthouse The Charlotte County Courthouse is a historical site in Punta Gorda that has been here since the late 1920s, and it has played a critical role in Florida’s history. The Charlotte County Courthouse has been utilized as a mainstay for all generations of residents from all walks of life (CCG). The type of architecture used was Greek and Roman architecture for the purpose of providing an appealing appearance for businesses (CCG). I found some very fascinating information in some old newspaper archives and more recent ones as well. I had also contacted the Charlotte County Historical Center in Punta Gorda, and they provided me with a very useful factsheet about the old courthouse. Charlotte County was established in 1921, and Punta Gorda thought it would be a good idea to have a courthouse for Charlotte County (CCG). In 1927, a woman named Marian McAdow, offered to donate her home on the waterfront for a courthouse, but her offer was turned down (CCG). Later that year, on April 11, the Board of County Commissioners purchased two lots on Taylor Street from African-American George Brown for $25,000 to build a courthouse (CCG). This was very significant because African-Americans were discriminated against, and back then white people mainly purchased from white people. The architect for the courthouse was a man named Joseph F. Leitner of St. Petersburg, and he had drawn the plan before the site had even been decided upon (CCG). The building is a Neo-Classical style, and it is characterized by a combination of Greek and Roman style in a symmetrical arrangement (CCG). Leitner was born in Augusta, Georgia in 1871 and began his career there as an architect, then he worked in South Carolina and North Carolina. Joseph Leitner then returned to Georgia for a little while, then spent his last days in Florida during the early 1920s. Most of Leitner’s style of architect was what was most popular in the day, which was Colonial Revival and various combinations of Romanesque and Italian styles, and most of his buildings were made out of red brick. According to the original contract, the construction costs were $134,000, but with changes and the cost of the land, the actual cost was $200,000 (CCG). The architect’s original plans were changed to add a second floor jail, including living quarters and a kitchen for the jailer and his family (CCG). There were twelve barred cells with doors operated by a remote-control lever and a hallway leading from the jail to the courtroom; prisoners entered through a steel-vault type door with a tiny window (CCG). The Charlotte County Courthouse was dedicated on Thursday March 20, 1928 in a ceremony at eight o’ clock in the evening (CCG). The first term of the circuit court in the new building consisted of Circuit Judge George W. White Hurst presiding, State Attorney Guy M. Strayhorn prosecuting, and Court Stenographer Edward Ley recording the proceedings (CCG). There were other government services included in the courthouse as well. They include other attorneys, commissioners, sheriffs, tax collectors, clerks, and school officials to name a few (CCG). Racial segregation was a way of life for many years, and business at the courthouse was no exception (CCG). There was a balcony in the courtroom accommodated only for African-American spectators, and there were separate restrooms and water fountains provided for black and white people (CCG). This tension and turmoil lasted until 1964 when all facilities were desegregated (CCG). Times were very hard for African-Americans who wanted to be a lawyer, judge, or anything related to law before the desegregation. The courthouse was adequate for forty years, but it eventually needed to be refurbished in 1963 (CCG). The new building additions were wrapped around three sides of the courthouse and in the front where the columns and the clocks were replaced with modern brick (CCG). A 4-story addition was linked to the back of the…