James Rodaken was awarded the contract to build the first courthouse in 1856. It was to be built in the exact center of the public square in Buchanan at cost of $5,000.00. It was a wooden structure and was damaged by fire in 1888. Attempts to repair it were unsuccessful. The decision to build a new courthouse was made in January of 1891.
The Haralson County Superior Court named a Building Committee and recommended that the Old Courthouse be sold to the highest bidder. They also recommended that the New Courthouse be built where the old one stood, the center of the public square in Buchanan. The Building Committee was composed of S L Hilton, W A McCalman, R E Loveless, Lloyd Thomas and A L Morgan. S M Davenport was Ordinary.
On May 12, 1891 the contract for building the Courthouse was let to G W Goulding of Cleburne County, Alabama. The contract price was $19,000.00. The contractor worked until he ran out of money. Judge S M Davenport wrote a warrant to the contractor for $1,000.00 so that the building could be completed. Judge Davenport was defeated at the next election.
The courthouse is a handsome Queen Anne structure designed by the architectural firm Bruce and Morgan. It is one of only a few such structures still standing in Georgia.
The Following is a description of the new courthouse as given by Bruce & Morgan, architects, in 1891:
"The dimensions on the ground are 64x92 feet, arranged as follows: The front entrance into vestibule is tiled with Georgia marble from which we enter a fourteen-foot wide corridor extending through the building. On each side of the corridor are several offices of the county, large and well lighted. The largest room is given to the Ordinary for business and court purposes. Joining the Ordinary's and Clerks offices are the fireproof record rooms, amply large, well lighted and fitted with iron shutters, vault doors, iron floors and ceilings. From the first entrance vestibule are wide, easy stairs built of oak leading to the second floor, entering a large lobby from which we enter the Superior Court room; steps 44x60 inches in the clear, only 22 inches high. Large space is given to the bar and jury boxes and the balance is seating, on raised floor, 250 to 300 person comfortably, The Grand Jury room, Solicitor's, jury and Judge's rooms are conveniently located with the bar, fitted with all modern conveniences (restrooms). The rear stairs are located so as to reach the bar and jury rooms without coming in contact with those in the seats and lobby. The Judge's stand is large and conveniently arranged for the dispatch of court business. Court and jury rooms all wains cotted. Wood ceilings to the first floor rooms.
"The exterior...makes a very neat and attractive building with a large corner tower about 110 feet high, and on the other corner a small round turrett, and the several stairway landings are neatly finished up in good taste and proportions. The construction is convenient and substantial in every department."
From The Banner-Messenger, Buchanan, GA June 4, 1891.
The Courthouse was used until 1972 when the New Courthouse was built. It had served the county well for 80 years and still continues to serve as it is used by many of the local citizens. The Senior Quilters meet every Monday. The Buchanan City Council and City Court meets here. The Haralson County Humane Society meets each month as well as the Disabled American Veterans. Several Weddings have been held here as well as receptions. The Historical Society has its regular meeting every 2nd Monday night at 6:30 p.m. and The Genealogy Library is also housed in the Old Courthouse.
One interesting tidbit: Rep. Tom Murphy was one of the lawyers in the last case tried in the Old Courthouse and Judge Arthur Fudger presided. Rep. Murphy was also one of the lawyers in the first trial in the New Courthouse.