By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
Editor’s note: This is the 15th in a 16-part series about Northeast Mississippi courthouses.
IUKA – A building with modern architectural style has served as the Tishomingo County Courthouse since 1970.
Built at a site on Old Highway 25 south of Old U.S. Highway 72/Quitman Street, the courthouse moved to a location where later in the 1970s it was joined by several new businesses, including Walmart and nearby, Fred’s.
In choosing the new location, county officials chose to keep the former structure, which has been the site of the Old Tishomingo County Archives & History Museum since 2003. It is the site where the first courthouse in Iuka was constructed in 1870, after the original Tishomingo County was divided to form Prentiss, Alcorn and Tishomingo counties.
The former county courthouse, at the corner of Fulton and Quitman (Old U.S. 72) streets, houses the Tishomingo County Historical and Genealogical Society, which has done considerable research on the history of the building.
Besides its architectural history, it was known for many years as the place where hundreds of couples from Tennessee and Alabama came to be married because Mississippi’s waiting period laws were more relaxed than those states.
According to TCHGS records, the land on which the old courthouse stands was acquired in 1857 from landowner Lemuel Hubbard.
The 1870 structure, built at a cost of $5,000, was damaged by fire in 1886 and was rebuilt in 1888, with former Gov. J.M. Stone overseeing the construction. The architectural style of the 1870 building, according to a report by TCHGS President Cindy Nelson, “was an early example of Romanesque Revival architecture with Second Empire-style influences seen in the monumental tower that dominated the west (Fulton Street) façade.”
Although portions of the building were destroyed by the 1886 fire, Nelson notes that “physical examination of the building and study of historic photographs show that the 1870 courthouse was only partially destroyed by the fire. The complex attic story, the tower, and the elegant hipped roof were lost, but the rest of the structure is still standing. Even the original windows are still in place.”
Museum visitors have access to a gift shop with postcards and photos of old Tishomingo County sites and other memorabilia, a research room for genealogical study, and several other rooms with historical exhibits and artifacts.