Mobile Government Plaza
History of Mobile County Courthouses


The Mobile Government Plaza is Mobile County's sixth courthouse. The first courthouse, built in 1825, was a two-story brick building with massive columns and a divided staircase leading to a piazza deck.

When the first courthouse was destroyed by fire, the second courthouse was built in 1853. Again of classical design, this three-story brick building featured classical columns and marble trim and was built at a cost of $70,289.08.

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The second courthouse was destroyed by fire just 10 years after it was built, and a third courthouse was built in 1873. This impressive structure featured giant Ionic columns and a monumental entrance stairway rising from Government Street. Once again, the Mobile County's courthouse was destroyed by fire and a fourth courthouse was built in 1889. Designed by Rudolph Benz and built at a cost of $60,763, the fourth courthouse was an elaborate Victorian structure richly decorated with classical details and sculpture and topped with a massive clock tower.

The Benz courthouse was demolished to make way for a fifth and more modern courthouse designed by Cooper Antwerp which was built in 1958 at a cost of $4.7 million. In 1977, a $1.6 million addition was constructed.

The fourth County Courthouse, 1889, was designed by popular Mobile architect Rudolph Benz. The building, though basically classical in format, was embellished with grand Victorian detailing. The tall center clock tower dominated Mobile's skyline for more than a quarter century.

(Photo from the University of South Alabama Archives).

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