Clay County Court House - Hayesville, NC
Hayesville, the only incorporated municipality in Clay County, has its business district centered on the historical Court House Square and offers a wide variety of services. The town's population is 382. The court house stands in the center of a large tree-filled square, with a gazebo that is the focal point for many community events. The court house is an example of Venacular Italianate architecture and was completed in November of 1889, at a cost of $7,799.
Primarily a rural area, the main industries are farming, wire and cable manufacturing, health and human services, and tourism. Tourists are attracted to this area because of the climate, the geographical location, the surrounding mountains, beautiful Lake Chatuge, and the warm and friendly people in a small town atmosphere.
The intrinsic values that can be lost in the burning of a building are sometimes enormous but the loss of material, upon which you cannot, in all fairness put a price, often becomes a tragedy. This was the case in the burning of the Clay County court house in Hayesville in 1870. Practically all of our local history became legend. There is no way in which many of the happenings in Clay County between 1861 and 1870 can be documented.
There seems to be no official record of the construction of a "make do" court house but excerpts from the minutes of the County Commissioners and from those of the Masonic Lodge indicate that there was some kind of house on the same ground where the present court house stands.
Commissioners minutes of November 2, 1885: "Ordered that a contract be made for renting the lower part of the Masonic Hall for county offices at $1.00 per month; after the window sash are put in and a good stove furnished. And the county officers be authorized as soon as practicable to remove the records, documents, etc. from the court house to said hall."
Lodge minutes of November 21, 1885: "Ordered that county pay to Lodge $5.00 per term of Court for use of Hall and lower room be hired to County Commissioners for term of one year @ $1.00 per month."
There is also record that Court was held during 1887 to 1889 in the Presbyterian Church.
Commissioners minutes September 5, 1887: "Contract to J. A. Slagle to remove old court house for $5.00 and all old materials."
On several occasions, the building of a new court house was mentioned in the deliberations of the governing body of county government.
For the record, then, we will say that there was a "make-do" building constructed, after the 1870 fire, on the same place that the present building stands; it having to be dismantled before the new one could be started.
On August 15, 1887 the County Commissioners: J. M. Crawford, Chairman, J. H. Penland, and A. B. Brown had before them plans and specifications for a new court house. W. G. Bulgin of Macon County had drawn up these plans similar to the court house that had been built in Franklin. It was ordered that they meet again on September 15, 1887 to open and consider bids for construction.
It was found that J. S. Anderson had submitted the lowest bid and he was awarded contract. The contract called for completion of work by the first day of October in 1888. Total consideration in the contract called for payment of $7,240.00 for all materials and labor. There were a few items that were apparently overlooked by the architect and when on November 5, 1889, when the building was inspected and accepted by the commissioners a total of $559.50 was added to the original contract for those extras; thus having a total cost to Clay County of $7,799.50.
The makeup of the County Board of Commissioners was changed by the death in September of 1889 of J. H. Penland. On October 7, 1889 T. H. Hancock was elected to fill the vacancy.
W. G. Bulgin was hired by the county to inspect and supervise construction. He was paid $1.50 per day. He was also paid $15.00 for drawing the plan and specifications.
Sufficient ventilation underneath the floor was evidently not provided in the original structure, since in only 21 years after construction the floor had to be replaced. A contract was awarded on February 10, 1912 to T. C. Lovin and George T. Love to put a concrete floor in the court house. This job called for filling in from the ground to a level of the old floor and bottom of doors, with rock; beating them down with hammers and then pouring a six inch layer of concrete on top of that. In consideration for the work Love and Lovin were paid $1,000.
County Commissioners responsible for the new floor were: W.S . Ledford, Chairman; E. V. McConnell and W. A. Cassada.
Hayeseville was granted a U.S. Post Office on May 7, 1868, and its first Postmaster was John W. Duncan. It has been in continuous operation ever since inception.