Chatham County Courthouse - District#15B
Records show that settlers from Europe arrived in the area as early as the mid 1700s, including a Quaker settlement formed in 1751. Early settlers entered from the north through a trading route of the Catawba Indians and from the south through the Cape Fear River Valley. The Colonial Assembly established Chatham County through legislation introduced on December 5, 1770, which was effective on April 1, 1771. The county was formed from a portion of what was once Orange County. The county was named for the Earl of Chatham, William Pitt, who was a "defender of American rights in the British Parliament."
The courthouse, which is the centerpiece of the traffic circle in the quaint Pittsboro downtown, was built in 1881 by T.B. Womack at a cost of $10,666. In 1930, a story was added to the building and in 1959, there was an extensive renovation that cost $130,000.
In 1985, a large new courthouse was built across the street from the old courthouse.
The Chatham Historical Museum came into being with the renovation of the Chatham County Courthouse in 1990, when the county commissioners approved the use of a small room in the southwest corner of the first floor by the Chatham County Historical Association, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. Cabinets that had once been part of the tax office were reworked for exhibit cases and storage by Dean Dreyer, and a discarded desk and chair were refinished for office use.
The museum is open on Wednesdays from 12 noon until 3 p.m., except holidays, and on the first Sundays of the months April through October from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m.
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