Competition's Legacy

16 Court Place (Rear), Chatham, Virginia
By Sarah E. Mitchell and Henry H. Mitchell

1813 Clerk's Office

Situated behind the Town Hall and in front of the Town Park, the 1813 Clerk's Office is now a two-room museum/meeting place for the Pittsylvania Historical Society. (It is only open for special occasions or by appointment.)

The building was used as the office of the Clerk of Court from 1813 to 1853, but by the late 20th century only the ruins of the room on the right remained. In the 1980's, the Pittsylvania Historical Society rebuilt the structure according to the original plans.

The 1813 Clerk's Office is the only visual reminder of the town's early courthouse locations. The first courthouse in Chatham was built near springs a hundred yards west of present downtown. The location proved unacceptable; therefore, a second court location was chosen where Chatham Baptist Church now stands. This decision was so hotly contested that the legislature changed the name of “Pittsylvania Court House” to “Competition” in 1807. (Not until 1874 did the town become “Chatham,” a name originally given in 1769 to the court village at Callands.) In 1812-1813, this clerk's office was built near the “new” (second) courthouse.

Yet another (the present) courthouse was built a few hundred feet to the east in 1853, leaving this clerk's office behind.

The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register. Although built after 1800, it was still of the colonial Virginia type of architecture which had been prevalent here a few years earlier.

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This guide is sponsored by Mitchells Publications.