Old Washington Courthouse

Mrs. Lula Reed Bass of Maysville, Ky., has written a well-researched paper entitled “Mason County’s First Temple of Justice.” The temple was Mason County’s first courthouse located in Washington, which had been established as a town in 1786 by an act of the Virginia Legislature. Made “of brick and stone,” the building was opened on 26 October 1796, Mrs. Bass wrote. On the outside of the building, in an area called “publick grounds,” there was a section fenced off for “stray pens” where lost or stray livestock were placed for owners to identify and recover. Another outdoors section was the pillory or whipping post where culprits received 20 lashes as punishment. After 115 years, lightning struck the courthouse (Friday, 13 August 1909) and burned the building. The Hixon Papers at the Maysville Public Library talk about a bill passed in 1847 to remove the court from Washington to Maysville. Before 1847, the court appointed a committee of farmers to report on adding a room to the courthouse in Maysville.

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