Georgia Bar Journal
GSB Vol. 14, NO. 7, Pg. 34.
The Morgan County Courthouse at Madison The Grand Old Courthouses of Georgia
GSB JournalVol. 14, NO. 7June 2009The Morgan County Courthouse at Madison: The Grand Old Courthouses of GeorgiaBy Wilber W. CaldwellThe old brick Morgan County corthouse at Madison, built in 1807, burned in 1844 and was replaced by another brick court building more or less in the American Federal Style. The 1844 court building burned in 1917, but it had served the county well until 1907 when it was replaced by the Beaux Arts splendor of James Wingfield Golucke's new Morgan County Courthouse.
James Wingfield Golucke was the son of an Austrian immigrant cabinet-maker. With no connections, little money and no formal training he fashioned a remarkable architectural career. The law creating a state board for the examination and registration of architects was not enacted by the Georgia Legislature until 1919, but by 1890, there was a small, tight cadre of trained architects in Atlanta who were members of The American Institute of Architects. No doubt men like Golucke, without academic credentials, were considered impostors by this group. Nonetheless, it was James Wingfield Golucke who proved the most prolific designer of the mythical mansions with their foundations of dreams and dust that were the courthouses of the fledgling New South era. Golucke designed 26 courthouses in Georgia, four in Alabama, and numerous churches, jails and other public buildings between 1895 and 1907.
Mythical mansions well-describes the neoclassical behemoths that began to dominate the squares of so many Georgia towns just after 1900. The idea that architecture is, at its very heart, not only a question of style, trend and fashion, but also a reflection of human aspirations and self-image is clear in the work of Golucke. In this regard, his courthouses built in Georgia during the last third of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century are compelling. The architecture of these buildings is a remarkably direct reflection of the mind of these rural places.
Golucke's offering here in Madison is fitting. The usual symbolism attached to the Neoclassical Revival and to Beaux-Arts Classicism which dominated American public architecture at the turn of the century is that it celebrated the forces of Wall Street...