“Historic Alabama Courthouses: A Century of Their Images and Stories” by Delos Hughes


ALABAMA – Professor of politics (emeritus) at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, Delos Hughes has gathered a wonderful pictorial collection of courthouses in Alabama, those wonderful buildings which were and are the center of every county seat in the state. Those buildings whose architectural, social, legal and historical importance is etched into the minds of the people whose lives were and are documented there for all time. Births and deaths are recorded there, marriages and divorces, deeds, and all kinds of licenses bear witness to the place and the people who did business there.

Some of these stately buildings no longer stand proudly in a place of honor, but have been replaced due to fire or the onward march of progress. Some of the lost ones were the most beautiful.

Hughes has captured each in his book, “Historic Alabama Courthouses: A Century of Their Images and Stories.” published by NewSouth Books, the beautifully bound, 155-page volume includes a courthouse, either present or past, from each of Alabama’s 67 counties, and in the case of Cullman County, both past and present courthouses are depicted. The visual archive of these monumental buildings is a treasure for history buffs, students of architecture and lovers of beautiful memorable buildings. 

Robert Gamble, retired senior architectural historian for the Alabama Historical Commission writes of the book: “From far corners of the state, from private hands and from public collections where some have lain all but forgotten, Delos Hughes has pulled together a remarkable array of vintage Alabama courthouse images. All 67 counties are represented, and often multiple generations of courthouses. Here we see the rustic as well as the refined, embodying in architecture the public contours of one state’s history, what a fitting publication as Alabama prepares to celebrate its bicentennial!”

“Reading the book is like taking a private tour of Alabama’s historic courthouses with a good friend who is exceptionally adept at architectural history and telling the stories of architects and builders and townspeople alike,” said Frances Osborn Robb, author of “Shot in Alabama: A Photographic History, 1839-1941.”

And they are right. When you read this book you will not only find interesting facts, but the answers to questions you might have wondered about, such as what happened to the original courthouse?

This book offers detailed descriptions of each courthouse, describing the pitch of a roof, the turrets, bell towers and cupolas of vintage designs, rarely seen in today’s boxy, nondescript administrative buildings.

Buildings like these were not only meant to be imposing, but they were designed to instill a sense of pride and ownership in the people of the counties which they represented. In a word, they were magnificent.

You may purchase the book from your favorite local or online retailer, or from NewSouth Books, 334-834-3556, http://qrne.ws/courthouses.

The cost per book is $25.95 plus shipping.


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