The Humble Beginnings of Cullman County Courthouse

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Cullman County Museum

CULLMAN – Before Cullman became a county in 1877, court, and all official transactions were held in the Blount County Courthouse. Later, when Cullman became an official Alabama county, court took place at Ambruster’s Hall. Before long it was relocated to a building adjoining the European Hotel that the town rented for $8 per month. Eventually, the citizens of Cullman County agreed that a genuine courthouse was needed, and in March 1878 steps were taken to do just that.

Cullman’s first official courthouse was built on land that was donated to the city by Mr. Christopher Scheuing, a member of one of Cullman’s original five pioneer families. The building stood on the corner of Second Avenue West and Fourth Street and was completed in February 1879 at a cost of $5,600.

It was constructed using locally manufactured bricks. At the time, it was considered to be one of the finest courthouses along the railroad line and in all of North Alabama. 

Before the courthouse was built, the land was used as a potato farm according to Margaret Jean Jones’ book, Combing Cullman County.

Combing Cullman County

As the story goes, it was a fine spring morning in 1878 and local farmer John Fromhold had been working diligently to prepare his soil.

He then planted a whole crop of potatoes on the land, which was right next to the old Pioneer Hotel.

Once he finished, he stood up, wiped his brow with a semi-clean handkerchief and admired his handiwork. 

Around that time, several town officials walked up. They stopped on either side of Fromhold and broke the unfortunate news to him.

“We have just chosen your potato patch for the site of the new courthouse,” one announced. 

“Construction will begin right away,” another man added.

Mr. Fromhold became angry and without missing a beat; he turned around, hitched his mule right back up to the plow and got busy. By nightfall, all the potatoes he had worked so hard to plant had been dug up and put right back where they came from – their sacks. 

“It was the quickest harvest on record,” a reporter from the Cullman Tribune had chuckled. Unfortunately, there was no increase in return. 

Sadly that courthouse was damaged by a raging fire in 1894.

An abandoned schoolhouse served as the courthouse until 1912 when the remainder of the building was torn down.

A new courthouse was then built at the same location. The second courthouse served Cullman County for the next 53 years until a bigger, more modern, building was constructed in 1965. 

Located on 2nd Avenue S.W., the third courthouse still stands. With three stories and a basement, it is by far the largest Cullman County Courthouse to date. 

The $1.5 million building, constructed of shiny white marble, passed its final inspection in February of 1965 and the old offices were immediately transferred.

On July 3, 1965, a dedication ceremony was held. Former U.S. Senator John Sparkman, U.S. Representative James D. Martin, and U.S. Representative Carl Elliott attended and gave speeches at the event.

On Tuesday, July 7, 2015, city officials and area residents gathered on the courthouse's steps to celebrate the Cullman County Courthouse’s 50th anniversary.

RELATED: Cullman County Courthouse Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Cullman County Community Corrections

Today, the original marble walls have been replaced with bright red brick. Even though the courthouse looks a lot different than it did when it was first built, it continues to stand tall and ready to serve the residents of Cullman County.