Cleveland County Courthouse
The Cleveland County Courthouse is the center of the small town of Shelby. It is no longer used as the county seat of government. The Earl Scruggs center is now housed in the courthouse.
Backstory and Context
The Cleveland County Courthouse is the center of the small town of Shelby, with its imposing character and stands as a regal icon in the historical square. The Neo-Classical Revival courthouse was designed by H.L. Lewman and built by Fall City Construction Company in 1907. It cost of $75,000. It is topped with a dramatic three-stage cupola. The building is characteristic of the Neo-Classical movement.
The North Carolina General Assembly created Cleveland County from parts of Rutherford and Lincoln counties in 1841. It was named for Benjamin Cleaveland, a revolutionary war hero from the battle of Kings Mountain. The spelling was later changed to honor the President of the same name.
Before the first courthouse was built, court was held on the second floor of Williams Weather's home southwest of Shelby. The first courthouse, a log building, was erected in the current courthouse square in 1842. George Smith was contracted to build a red brick courthouse, completed in 1874. This courthouse was then replaced by the dramatic limestone building standing on Courthouse Square today. Designed by H. L. Lewman and built by Falls City Construction Company, the courthouse sets the tone for the entirety of the historical district surrounding the courthouse.
In 1974, the law enforcement building replaced the 1907 courthouse. In 1976 the old courthouse became home to the Cleveland County Historical Museum, and is currently home to the Earl Scruggs Center.
In front of the courthouse, facing Lafayette Street, is the Statue for the Confederate Heroes of Cleveland County. It was dedicated on November 21, 1906. So far, no discussion of removing this monument has taken place.
“Cleveland County Courthouse: Shelby, North Carolina: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary.” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, www.nps.gov/nr/travel/shelby/cle.htm.
“Cleveland County (1841).” North Carolina History Project, northcarolinahistory.org/encyclopedia/cleveland-county-1841/.
The National Register of Historic Places