Thursday, November 08, 2007

To the courthouse--finally

After a painstaking restoration project that took an awfully long time, the Chowan County Courthouse reopened in October 2004. I said at the time that I wished I had been there for the reopening. Today, finally, I got there. They leave it open during the day. You can walk in and imagine what it was like to be in court there in the nineteenth century, or eighteenth (the building was built in 1767). Upstairs was a grand ballroom where President Monroe was lavishly entertained in 1819. They partied so hard then and on other occasions that by the latter 19th century it became prudent to add columns to the courtroom below.

This is the courtroom where, in the fall of 1829, John Mann was found guilty of assault upon a hired slave named Lydia, an opinion that Thomas Ruffin for the North Carolina Supreme Court overturned.

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