History and images have been compiled from various sources including, among others, the 1987 National Register of Historic Places, Stack & Beasley's 1902 Sketches of Monroe and Union County, Union County Public Library (Patricia Poland, Genealogy & Local History Librarian), the Heritage Room Photo Collection, North Carolina Map Collection, Rootsweb - An Ancestry.com Community and Ancestry.com family histories.

Monroe City Hall 1847-1848

Contemporary Flickr photo by "NC Elmo"
Heritage Room photo
1971 Photo included in National Register of Historic Places nomination
102 W. Jefferson Street
Statement of Significance 
National Register 1971 

“The Monroe City Hall, begun in 1847 and completed in 1848, was originally built as the public jail. The old jail it replaced is reported to have been a log structure which stood on Beasley Street. The January, 1847, term of Union County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions ordered ‘that David A. Covington, Aaron Little, Robert G. Howard and Eli Stewart with William Hamilton be appointed commissioners’ to draw up plans for a public jail to be located in Union County.

“When the court met again in April, 1847, it was decided ‘that the large fine imposed upon John Medlin at the Superior Court in Cabarrus County in February last be set apart and appropriated for the building of a public jail for the County of Union.’

“John Medlin and his son-in-law, Clemont B. Curlee, had been charged with the murder of a runaway slave belonging to Medlin. Because feelings were running high in Union County, the case was tried in Cabarrus County. Curlee was found innocent, but Medlin was found guilty of ‘felony and manslaughter.’ To avoid the death penalty, Medlin pleaded and was adjudged to be ‘entitled to the benefit of his clergy.’ Benefit of clergy, which under English common law protected the clergy from capital punishment, was extended in some cases to any convicted person who could read. It was abolished in Federal courts in 1790 and in North Carolina in 1855. Medlin was fined $3,000 and ordered to pay the court costs which were $390.37.

“With a large part of the money needed for the building thus provided, the court further instructed the committee to find a contractor would agree to erect the building according to the plans submitted by the committee for $6,500.

“The building, constructed on the north side of the public square, served as Union County’s jail until a new one was built in 1892. The old jail was put up for public auction on January 2, 1893, with A.M. Crowell submitting the high bid of $2,825. But since Crowell was unable to comply with the bid, the building was sold to the town of Monroe for $2880.80. The building has been used to house Monroe City government since 1893.”

“The Monroe City Hall, possibly the oldest building in Monroe, is interesting architecturally as well as historically. A fine example of North Carolina antebellum civic architecture, it has been used continuously as a public building since its construction.

“The Monroe City Hall, a three-story building of brick laid in Flemish bond, has a gable roof and interior end chimneys. The front (south) façade is three bays wide with a slightly projecting one-bay pedimented center pavilion. The pediment is formed by a fine brick cornice which carries around the entire building. Each bay on the ground level contains an entrance. The west entrance is surmounted by a large single-pane transom; the central entrance features sidelights as well as a transom; the east entrance is contained in a large segmented arch which, considerably wider than the other entrances, may have been designed to accommodate a vehicle. The windows at the second and third levels have stone sills and molded architraves with plain cornerblocks. Each contains modern two-over-two sash. There is slight but effective diminution of fenestration.

“The east and west ends are pedimented also. A two-story twentieth century wing has enclosed all but the top story of the west side. The three-bay rear façade originally had three entrance on the ground level. The central doorway and the east window on the second level have been bricked up, and a two-story brick addition has been made to the west bay. The windows lighting the third story contain the early six-over-six sash.

“On the interior, the City Hall presents a center-hall plan two rooms deep. A closed string stair with a molded rail and square newel rises from the east side of the hall. Some twentieth century alterations have been made including a toilet at the rear of the hall. All the mantels in the first story have been removed and the fireplace openings plastered over. The rooms are quite plain with plaster walls above heavy baseboards. The doors have reeded architraves with plain cornerblocks. The second floor, similar in plan to the first, was formerly used as the sheriff’s living quarters. It features slightly more elaborate trim than the first floor. The windows in the hall are framed by paneled surrounds with cornerblocks adorned with roundels. In the southwest room is the only remaining mantel in the building. It is of conventional Greek Revival design with heavy fluted pilasters supporting a flat-panel frieze and end blocks with a Greek key motif. An enclosed stair, which rises from the second floor hall through the east room to the third floor, appears to be a replacement for an earlier stair. The third floor, which originally served as the jail, contains little of its original finish.”

1 comment:

  1. The building served not only as the county jail but also as the sheriff's office and residence. While A. J. Price was sheriff from 1880-1884 an inmate was killed in the jail. The actual jail was on the 3rd floor of the building, first and second floors housed the sheriff and family as well as offices.