Besides all the personal and economic chaos that can come about from destroyed documents, deeds and other records, courthouse fires have also been known to be the bane of existence for many a genealogist. Few things can be as destructive as a structure fire, and American history is replete with accounts of courthouses being torched by arsonists, lightning strikes, heating and lighting accidents and in the American South by rampaging Union armies. Gallia County has had its share also, but by good fortune and by prudent and heroic action by some, almost all of the county records have survived intact. The current court house is the fifth structure that was built for this purpose.
The first court house was erected in the Public Square or City Park. The cornerstone was laid in 1808, but it was not completed for 15 years. In the summer when not in use it was sometimes used as a summer school by Gallia Academy and for meetings of the Presbyterian Society. It was torn down and replaced in 1847. It was the only one of the five courthouse structures serving the county that was retired by old age.
The second court house was located where the
present day court house is on Locust Street. This court house was
burned by arsonists in 1858 and those responsible went to the Ohio Penitentiary.
In 1879 a fourth court house was built. There was a lovely town clock in the cupola. In 1901 the buildilng was expanded. In 1936 offices were added to the basement. An annex was added in 1962.
On January 8, 1981, the main court house that had served the county for 101 years was destroyed by fire due to a defective heater. The annex was saved despite water damage. Court house records and documents were recovered.
The old Gallia County library and leased office space were used. In 1981, temporary modular offices were located on the court house lawn and parking lot. Ground was broken for a new court house in 1983 and it was dedicated in November 1985. Occupancy began in 1984, but dedication did not occur until landscaping and parking facilities were complete.
Information from the Dedication Program Booklet prepared by the Gallia County Commissioners.