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The first Grayson County Courthouse was located in Old Town, east of the present-day county seat of Independence. This was when Grayson County consisted of present-day Grayson County and Carroll County to the east. That first brick courthouse is still standing in Old Town and is a private residence.
In 1850, Grayosn County was split and Carroll County was formed. A debate arose concerning the location of the county seat. Old Town is too far east in the county, some argued...the county seat should be in Elk Creek. Others said it was fine where it was. A third group of independents favored a more central location. This third group prevailed and the new town was named Independence for the group that proposed it.
A new courthouse was built in 1863 in the new county seat. It stood until 1906 when, in disrepair, it was torn down to make way for a new courthouse, started in 1908. A key feature of the new courthouse was the vault. The state had mandated that all county courthouse have a fire-proof vault for storing inportant documents such as birth, marriage, property, and death records.
Frank P. Milburn was chosen by the Grayson County Board of Supervisors as the architect for the new courthouse. Milburn had designed other courthouses in the region including Wise County, VA and Forsyth County, NC, as well as the Southern Railway Station in Knoxville, TN
The 1908 Courthouse
The 1863 courthouse was torn down and contstruction was begun on the new building (some of the brick from the 1863 courthouse was saved and used as fill inside the walls of the 1908 courthouse). County records were stored in the Baptist Church while the building was constructed. Brick from Maysville, Ky. was shipped by rail to Fries and delivered by ox drawn wagon to Independence. Office furniture was purchased from a Richmond company in 1909. Total cost for the building, grading and terracing, a stone wall, and an iron fence (added sometime later), total cost is estimated at $30,000.
The 1908 Courthouse is an example of the Richardsoriian style of architecture common to public buildings built between 1865 and 1915. This building has many of the characteristics of this style: the imposing size of the structure; the massiveness that stamps it as a government building; its round Flemish arches repeated with square-sectioned openings, and its stone and brick construction.
The Confederate Monument, “Parade Rest”, that stands in front of the courthouse was added later and dedicated in 1911. It is made of carrara marble from Italy and is resting on granite quarried from just north of Richmond and is similar to other county monuments throughout the south.