Rutherford County Historic Courthouse

The Beginning: 1811 - 1822

Rutherford County became organized October 25, 1803. Jefferson was named the county seat in honor of President Thomas Jefferson. The community thrived due to its accessibility at the mouth of the Stones River. The early Courthouse at Jefferson was built at a cost of twenty-five hundred dollars and was completed in 1806. By 1811 the county had moved to a small village in the center of the county at Cannonsburgh.

The legislature renamed Cannonsburgh, Murfreesborough on November 29, 1811. Captain William Lytle who wished to honor his friend, Colonel Hardy Murfree, named Murfeesborough. In order to conduct county business, a courthouse was needed. In 1813, a Courthouse, jail, whipping post, and stocks were completed and ready for occupancy; however, no pictures or descriptions of this building exist. In 1817, Murfeesboro was recognized as an official city by the state legislature. That next year, Murfreesboro became the capitol of Tennessee. The Courthouse housed the state legislature until it burned in 1822.

Many recognizable politicians were legislators and began their career here: James K. Polk, David Crockett and Sam Houston. A frequent visitor was Andrew Jackson who announced his United States Senate in this Courthouse.

Next: The Civil War

1812 Rutherford County Courthouse. Rutherford County Historical Society, circa 1970. Courtesy of the Rutherford County Archives. This image is a drawing that was commissioned by the Rutherford County Historical Society in the 1970s, based on the plans for the courthouse. This is what we believe Murfreesboro's first courthouse looked like.