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The Hanover Historical Society offers free ‘open house’ tours of the historic Hanover Courthouse on the second Tuesday of each month between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The historic Hanover Courthouse is almost as old as Hanover itself, which was formed in 1720. It is currently believed that the Courthouse was built around 1737, making it the second-oldest courthouse in Virginia that is still in use.
In those days, the Courthouse was the center of county life. On monthly Court Days, the justices heard civil suits, held hearings in criminal cases and issued tavern licenses. Four Court Days a year were reserved for jury trials. Auctions of both real estate and slaves were held in this historic Courthouse.
The Courthouse and its surroundings would have been crowded with people selling food and whiskey and witnesses for cases boarding overnight at Hanover Tavern next door. Court Days brought people together who might not have seen one another since the last Court Day, and it provided a welcome opportunity for “entertainment” and gossip.
The Courthouse became the setting for a historic trial in 1763, when a young Hanover lawyer named Patrick Henry challenged the authority of the King of England to overrule laws passed by the state’s legislature. That case became known as “The Parson’s Cause” and it started Henry on the road to fame as “the orator of the Revolution.”
The Courthouse is listed on both the National and State Registers of Historic Places. It is filled with portraits of famous Hanoverians and is the site for various ceremonial occasions and re-enactments of “The Parson’s Cause”.
No reservations are required for the free informational open houses. If you would like more information, please call Hanover Parks & Recreation at (804) 365-7150.