The present day courthouse is actually the third structure to be used for court proceedings in Smyth County. When Smyth County was formed in 1832, there was no official building ready to be used to hold court in. Officials decided to hold proceedings in the John Thomas house until the “First” courthouse could be erected in 1834. This “first” courthouse was a two story red-brick building used until the present day building was erected in 1905 on the same location.
John Thomas House
The home of John Thomas was used a temporary courthouse when Smyth County was formed until one could be built. The home was located on the historic “Royal Oak” land grant and was originally the home of David or Arthur Campbell, built in 1766. This location is near present day Marion Elementary School and Marion Senior High School.
1834 Smyth County Courthouse (First Courthouse)
The first official Smyth County Courthouse building was completed in January of 1834, two years after the county’s formation, at a cost of $7,700.50. The building was made of red brick and had a rock jail at its rear. Years later, two brick law offices were constructed on the courtyard to either side of the courthouse building (pictured below: eastern side law office). The courthouse building was also used for other purposes during this time including church meetings and theatre performances. The 1834 Courthouse was demolished in 1904 so that a newer, larger, and more modern courthouse could be built.
1905 Smyth County Courthouse (Second Courthouse)
The second Smyth County Courthouse was constructed in 1905-1906 on the same site as the first at a cost of $49,282. This roman style building features ionic columns, a stained glass dome, and is made out of Pawhatan salt-and-pepper brick and Bedford limestone. On the second floor was a auditorium known as the Court Square Theatre. The theatre was used for community productions as well as traveling shows and became the first theatre in town to be used for motion pictures. The second floor also contained a space for a public library that consisted of donated books. In 1970, two additions were made to the rear of the courthouse and in 1976 the original section was completely renovated.