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Doors set to open on new Queen Anne’s County Circuit

Courthouse in Centreville


Queen Anne's County Courthouse
The historic courthouse for the Circuit Court for Queen Anne’s County is the oldest courthouse in continuous use in the state of Maryland and one of the oldest courthouses in continuous operation in the country. The new courthouse is scheduled to open June 17, 2019.

“We’ve gone from being the oldest to the newest courthouse in the state of Maryland.”

CENTREVILLE, Md. – Nestled in the heart of downtown Centreville is a venerated courthouse, rich in history and anchored in the past. Just a few feet away sits a new state-of-the-art courthouse, rich in architecture and technology and ready for the future.

In a matter of days, the doors of the old courthouse will close for good, marking the end of 224 years of service to the citizens of Queen Anne’s County. As one chapter ends, a new one begins in the county, and visitors can expect a completely different experience.

You get a sense of nostalgia walking along the brick pathway surrounding 100 Courthouse Square in Centreville. The current Circuit Court for Queen Anne’s County and the landscape that surrounds it is the epitome of what a courthouse square should look like.

Built in 1791, George Washington was in his first term as president and the U.S. Constitution was less than five years old. The 13,000 square foot historic courthouse was commissioned on June 1, 1796 and had a price tag of $6,800. The original building was heated by a fireplace and had an outhouse as its lavatory. Throughout its history, communication systems included courier, telegraph, and rotary phones. Some of those features are long gone, while others have been preserved to maintain the historic nature of the building.

Queen Anne's County Courthouse
During the courthouse dedication on April 13, 2019, Queen Anne’s County Administrator Todd Mohn talks about the historic courthouse’s features, including the massive 750-watt incandescent bulbs that illuminate the courtroom.

The current Circuit Court for Queen Anne’s County Courthouse is the oldest courthouse in continuous use in the state of Maryland and one of the oldest courthouses in continuous operation in the country.

Presently, the single courtroom in the historic courthouse is illuminated by six massive 750-watt incandescent bulbs. Just a stone’s throw away in the brand-new courthouse, two new courtrooms will use approximately one-half the power, thanks to modern, energy-efficient fixtures.

Crews broke ground and started construction on the new courthouse in August 2016. The vision was to create a 21st century courthouse focused on technology and access to justice.

“Building a new courthouse is a challenge that takes an entire community,“ said Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera. “It requires years of effort and close collaboration among the branches of government.”

The planning and construction of the new courthouse has spanned over three separate county administrations. From the exterior design to the interior features, this construction has been years in the making.

Queen Anne's County Courthouse
Members of the Maryland Judiciary gather for a photo during the courthouse dedication. Pictured from left to right, Scott MacGlashen, former clerk of court for the Circuit Court for Queen Anne’s County, Katherine Hager, current clerk of court for the Circuit Court for Queen Anne’s County, Hon. Mary Ellen Barbera, Maryland Court of Appeals, Pamela Harris, State Court Administrator, and Hon. Thomas G. Ross, County Administrative Judge, Second Judicial Circuit.

“It has taken multiple resources and a wealth of knowledge and support to make this new courthouse a reality,” said Maryland Judiciary State Court Administrator Pamela Harris.

After years of planning and hard work, the community gathered at the new building along N. Commerce Street for the courthouse dedication on April 13, 2019.

“We’ve gone from being the oldest to the newest courthouse in the state of Maryland,” said Queen Anne’s County Clerk of Court Katherine Hager. “Courthouses are known to stand as an architectural gem and the centerpiece of civic pride. While we will miss the charm and character of our historic courthouse, we look forward to serving the citizens in a 21st century courthouse allowing us to provide improved access to justice for all.”

“When a courthouse is to be built in a county with the rich historic setting that characterizes Centreville and Queen Anne’s County, additional care and thought must be taken to honor the history and to serve the needs of the people of this county today, tomorrow, and well into the future,” noted Chief Judge Barbera. “This new courthouse does exactly that.“

The new courthouse is the state’s first all-electronic court, which means it will operate under the Maryland Electronic Courts system, also known as MDEC. It will also feature CourtSmart, an electronic recording equipment system.

“The need for a new courthouse in this county was essential,” said County Administrative Judge Thomas G. Ross, Second Judicial Circuit. “Not only from a technological standpoint but also for security concerns.”

The new courthouse is scheduled to open on June 17, 2019, and community leaders are excited to share this new beginning with the citizens of Queen Anne’s County.

Queen Anne's County Courthouse
The historic courthouse in downtown Centreville was built in 1791. At the time, George Washington was in his first term as president and the U.S. Constitution was less than five years old. The 13,000 square foot historic courthouse was commissioned on June 1, 1796 and had a price tag of $6,800.

“These doors are open wide to all who seek access to justice,” said Queen Anne’s County Administrator Todd Mohn. “Its technological capabilities make it ready to greet and meet the needs of the future.”

County leaders will determine whether the historic courthouse will remain open to the public for visits and tours.

Watch the full courthouse dedication from April 13, 2019, here:
https://videoplayer.telvue.com/player/AbfNhigIqnG-4roGCxaFupXEKfme9dfT/media/469345?autostart=false&showtabssearch=true&fullscreen=false&jwsource=cl

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(June 13, 2019)