The replica built under the direction of Dan Lawrence and Shore Creek Forest & Garden off Semora Road, is home to not one but three huge bells that are historic in themselves as once called Personians to court – and other events – at a different Person County Courthouse.
The first-Person County Courthouse was also a tavern at Paine’s Tavern, where one of the first courses of action in the newly formed Person County in 1792 was an order to build a courthouse at “Moccasin Gap,” which eventually would become Roxboro, on a six-acre lot. Today’s courthouse sits on only a portion of that original tract.
The first courthouse built on the site was constructed from logs, as was the adjoining jail, and it served the county until 1826, when it was replaced by “a more commodious one-story brick courthouse.
Whether the original courthouse had a bell is not known, but if it did, the bell has not survived. The 1826 courthouse did have a bell attached to a post on the courthouse lawn. The bell not only announced when court was in session but also to call together volunteer firefighters to save the wooden structures of business that had grown around the courthouse square. This bell was rescued by J.A. (Dee) Long, Sr. in 1883 when the new two-story courthouse was built to replace the 1826 facility. The 1826 bell was donated to the museum by Ann and Ben Whitfield and the Hubert Martin Whitfield family.
The 1883 courthouse was a rather controversial building. Not only was it much larger and grander than any other courthouse, but it exhibited a very stylish bell tower with a clock. In 1883 the courthouse was town down and replaced in 1930 by the courthouse that stands on Courthouse Square today.
The replica on the museum campus holds the actual bells from the courthouses of 1826, 1883 and 1930.