Kent County Courthouse

History of the Kent County Courthouse

The present Kent County Courthouse was completed for use in 1874. When first erected, the 1874 courthouse was a four-story building constructed in the Second Empire Style. Throughout the next 40 years, its top floor was used for many public functions, including a number of inaugural balls. In 1918, the courthouse was extensively remodeled to assume an appearance more in keeping with the federal-style architecture of the Old State House and a number of other structures on The Green.

Prior to 1874, the courts had shared the Old State House with Delaware State government. From 1791-1874, the Old State House served as the Courthouse for Kent County and as the State Capitol. But it only had one Court Room. By 1870, it became obvious that the building was overcrowded and steps were taken by the Kent County Levy Court to have a new Courthouse erected. In 1874, the present Courthouse was erected on a then vacant lot.

In 1918, when the building was expanded, the Register of Wills, Recorder of Deeds, Clerk of Orphans Court, and Register in Chancery, Prothonotary, Sheriff, Clerk of the Peace, County Treasurer and Levy Court were moved into the Courthouse. In 1979, Kent County erected a new County Office Building and all County Office—except the offices of the Sheriff, Prothonotary and Register of Chancery—were all moved into it. The Courthouse was then set aside for the exclusive use of the Courts and Court related activities.

All of the courts (except Justice of the Peace Courts) shared a single court room until after World War II when additional courtrooms were provided within the Courthouse. In the 1950s, separate quarters outside the Courthouse were provided for the Delaware Supreme Court and the Family Court.

Guided Tours of Courtroom One in the Kent County Courthouse are available on the First Saturday of the month between 1: 30 and 4 p.m. Tours for more than 10 require advanced scheduling; call 302-739-9194. Tours begin through the entrance on The Green. For more information about tours or other First State Heritage Park sites and programs, please visit the Delaware State Parks website.