The Martinsville-Henry County Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, donations to which are deductible to the full extent of the law. The Historical Society’s current financial statement is available upon request. Information submitted to the State of Virginia under the Charitable Solicitations Act is available from the Office of the Secretary of State for the cost of copying and postage.
Martinsville-Henry County Historical Society
1 East Main Street
Martinsville, VA 24112
Federal I.D. Number: 54-1819472
Henry County, named after Patrick Henry, became an independent county in 1777. The Henry County Courthouse now sits in the City of Martinsville which was named after General Joseph Martin in 1791. Martinsville incorporated in 1873 and became a city in 1929.
In 1793. . .
The first permanent courthouse was a structure of hewn logs on a stone foundation which at one moment in its life boasted a roof painted red, the gables white, and the walls blue. Court days were days of festivity which included political venues, gambling, as well as an occasional viewing of court proceedings.
In 1824. . .
As the importance of the county grew, a new two-story building recalling the popular Roman Classical style was built. This courthouse witnessed confederate troops marching off to Civil War and the long struggle to regain prosperity in the peace that followed.
The thick walls of solid brick were laid in the elaborate Flemish bond pattern. These original walls with arched window openings may be seen today inside the Records Room which housed documents dating to the 1790s. Many of the documents were signed by noted Virginians.
In 1929. . .
On the eve of the Great Depression, Henry County found that it had outgrown its imposing old courthouse. The 1824 courthouse was encased inside a larger building which retained the original portico columns. This unusual building is unique among Virginia’s courthouses.
Courthouse Today. . .
With the demolition of the annexes and the foundation of the former jail in 2004, the Courthouse stands almost completely unchanged from its construction of 1929 with only cosmetic changes to interior fixtures and antiquated updates throughout the years.
Why Preserve the Past?
History informs, inspires, and defines us. It appeals to our sentimentalism. It represents what we are, what we have been, and what we aspire to be. The Historical Society places a high value on preserving the past and sharing history with others.