The Historic Hanover Courthouse is the third-longest continuous-use courthouse in the United States, after only the King William County Courthouse (1725) in neighboring King William County, and the Old Salem County Courthouse (1735) in New Jersey.
Hanover County, Virginia was founded on November 20, 1720. The county’s first courthouse was located on the plantation of Robert Jennings, Jr., where it operated from around 1720 to 1738. Though this was close to the current courthouse, it’s exact location has been lost to history.
Though the stone above the Historic Hanover Courthouse’s center arcade clearly states that it was Built in 1735, this is today thought to be when the courthouse was first proposed. It was built from about 1738 to 1742, likely by James Skelton. Skelton was Hanover County’s Sheriff in 1739, and went on to work as a contractor on the State Capitol in Williamsburg in 1749.
The property on which the courthouse was built was owned by William Meriwether, Justice of the Peace of Hanover County. Meriwether set aside several hundred acres to serve as courthouse property, though the land and the courthouse itself remained private property until 1752, when it was sold to the County Justices.
PHOTO AND CONTENT CREDIT: Hanover County Historical Society