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Buncombe County Courthouse

Buncombe County Courthouse, situated in Asheville, is one of the most extravagant courthouses in North Carolina. Its first building was a log where the first court met in what is now Asheville. The building, with a structural height of 70 meters, is faced with cream-colored brick accented by classic details of Indiana limestone and granite. Its complex setbacks, window groupings and overlay of classical ornamentation result in a distinctive structure from that period. The inner lobby of the Courthouse is one of the best-preserved and most stylish Neo-Classical interiors in the state. The lobby features a sweeping marble staircase, bronze and glass screens, a coffered ceiling with ornate plasterwork and a mosaic tile floor that echoes the ceiling's tones. After its founding in 1792, Buncombe County built the courthouse in Morristown, the past name of Asheville. During the 19th Century, several log and brick structures were added to the courthouse, including substantial buildings of 1877 and 1903. By 1923, the county court officials proclaimed that a new courthouse was "imperative and essential." The present-day building was officially opened with a dedication ceremony on December 1, 1928. It was included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The County Commissioners, led by Chairman Edgar M. Lyda, selected the Milburn, Heister and Company of Washington, D.C. to design the new courthouse in December, 1926. During that time, the firm enjoyed a national reputation for quality work in public buildings across the Southeast. The Courthouse building is one of the Milburn's most sumptuously finished public structures. The 17-story building was the tallest local government building in the state by the time of its completion. Over the last few years, it underwent many upgrades and renovation projects. The most recent was the painting of the ceiling in the lobby and the complete restoration of the fifth floor courtroom. The building has also experienced many changes in use. The upper five stories once served as a county jail, which were moved out of the building by 1978.