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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Shelby County Courthouse Justice - Memphis, TN

Shelby County Courthouse Justice - Memphis, TN

The Shelby County Courthouse in Memphis, TN is the state's largest and one of the most ornate. Memphis became the county seat of Shelby County in 1866. An ornate courthouse was already planned but the after effects of the civil war delayed this and a local hotel was purchased and renovated to be the courthouse for a few decades. The Courthouse was built in 1910 for one and a half million dollars. Until 1966, this imposing structure of neo-classical Ionic design with blue Bedford limestone housed the executive and legislative chambers of Memphis and Shelby county. In 1984, an 8-year renovation and refurbishment took place to preserve the mahogany doors and paneling, brass door knobs embossed with the county seal, walls, pilasters and flooring comprised of seven varieties of marble.

On the exterior of the courthouse are several forms of statuary. Most prominent are the six seated figures carved from single blocks of Tennessee marble, representing Wisdom, Justice, Liberty, Authority, Peace and Prosperity. They were designed by J. Massey Rhind at a cost of $74,000. Near the top of the north facade are six standing figures: Prudence, Courage, Integrity, Learning, Mercy and Temperance. Pediments above many entrances are decorated with carved scenes depicting religious law, Roman law, statutory law, common law, civil law and criminal law. At the apex of each of these pediments is the head of Minerva, Roman goddess of wisdom.

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