Small Towns of Virginia Series: Charlotte Court House

This sleepy little rural town in Central Virginia can easily be overlooked.  Located miles from the Interstate or four lane US and Virginia Highways, Charlotte Court House in many ways is easily forgotten.  However, this tiny town of slightly over 400 residents holds a lot of Virginia and American History.

VA 47 and VA 40 run through Charlotte Court House.

In 1799, Charlotte Court House saw the passing of the torch from an aging Patrick Henry and a young John Randolph.  The great debate over states' rights was the last for the fiery Henry and the first in public for Randolph.  Randolph would go on to serve in the US House of Representatives and U.S. Minister to Russia.  Henry, who was serving in the Virginia General Assembly representing Charlotte County at the time of the debate, died three months later.

Charlotte Court House is not the original name of the town.  Originally named The Magazine, then Daltonsburgh, followed by Marysville (which was the town's name at the time of the Henry-Randolph debate), Smithfield, and finally named Charlotte Courthouse at the turn of the 20th Century.  However, that was not the last name change for the Charlotte County Seat.  In 1989, Charlotte Courthouse became Charlotte Court House, which it remains today.  Fittingly there are still many listings of 'Charlotte Courthouse' today. (1)

The Charlotte County Courthouse is also another great piece of history.  The Courthouse, built in 1823, is the last surviving courthouse in Virginia that was designed by Thomas Jefferson.  It was built by John Percivulle and the design was the basis of many other piedmont courthouses built in that era.

Charlotte County Courthouse built in 1823.

Charlotte Court House saw minimal action during the Civil War.  In June 1864, a Union foraging party entered the town after destroying rail lines in nearby Keysville, Meherinn Station and Burkeville Junction.  The brief Union occupation went rather uneventful and many residents were relieved when Union forces did not burn any parts of the town down.

Within the courtyard of the Charlotte County Courthouse sits a Veterans and Confederate Soldiers Memorial.

Today, Charlotte Court House is a charming small village that takes pride in their history.  There are numerous historical building within the town.  In addition to small inns, shops and restaurants.  In recent times, the 1993 movie "Sommersby" was shot here.

A small general store in Charlotte Court House.

Site Navigation:
  • Return to Old Dominion Roads Index

  • Sources & Links:

  • (1)  Commonwealth of Virginia - Legislative Reference Center. "Counties, Cities, Towns with Charters: Charlotte Court House." May 13, 2005.
  • Town of Charlotte Court House
  • Charlotte County, Virginia
  • John Randolph ---The Museum of Charlotte County, Virginia
  • Places Associated with Patrick Henry ---Geography of Virginia
  • Charlotte County Courthouse ---Courthouses of Virginia



    Page Created: March 16, 2008
    Last Updated: March 16, 2008
    All photos taken by webmaster - June 13, 2007.

    © 2008 William Lawson