Worcester County Circuit Courthouse History

Drawing of the Worcester County Circuit Courthouse of 1836

Through a 1742 General Assembly act, Somerset County was split to form Worcester County. During the same time period the General Assembly created a special commission to build a new courthouse in each county. Somerset County’s courthouse was to be located in Princess Anne and Worcester County’s courthouse was to be located in Snow Hill.1 The first Snow Hill courthouse built in 1742-1743 was destroyed by fire in 1834. This required the General Assembly to appoint commissioners for the rebuilding of a new courthouse. The second courthouse underwent major renovations in 1882 and 1883 that included an addition to the rear of the present courtroom, a new second floor courtroom, fireproof vaults provided for the Register of Wills and Clerk of Court, and a new slate roof.2 The night of August 7, 1893 the second courthouse and jail were destroyed by fire. It was not until the General Assembly’s meeting January 03, 1894 that an act was passed to once again rebuild the courthouse and jail.3 The total cost to build the red brick Victorian courthouse and jail was $37,449.87. Completed in 1894, the Victorian courthouse has remained essentially the same to this day.4

1 Ch.19.
2 This figure was taken from the report of a field worker of the Historical Records Survey, now on deposit at the Hall of Records. The information was drawn from the earliest surviving book of Minutes of The Board of County Commissioners, 1869-1885, which is now also at the Hall of Records.
3 Ch. 250, Acts of 1894.
4 Field Report of HRS Worker.

Adapted from The County Courthouses and Records of Maryland, Part One: The Courthouses, Annapolis:The Hall of Records Commission of the State of Maryland, 1960.