Of Jefferson County, it has been said that, “No Tennessee county has a more honorable record or a more interesting history than Jefferson.” The early settlers were people of intelligence, education and patriotism. The first permanent settlement at Dandridge dates to 1783; the village became the county seat in 1793.
The Jefferson County Courthouse, located on Main Street in Dandridge, is one of the oldest county courthouses in Tennessee, which is still in use. Erected in 1845, by Hickman Brothers Construction for $6,666, the current courthouse replaced a much smaller log structure. It is most likely that Judge Robert Hynds, chairman of the building committee, drew the plans for the Jefferson County Courthouse.
The courthouse is a two-story brick structure built in the Greek Revival style. Some of its features include handmade bricks, a wooden cupola and a unique roof framing system void of nails. It is a prime example of the level of craftsmanship that was predominant in Tennessee during that time.
Documents from 1792 are intact in the courthouse. These documents include wills, marriage records and the like. A county museum, established in 1957, is located inside the courthouse, which displays Indian and Civil War relics, historic documents and artifacts from the area. Records show that the courthouse even served as a hospital during the Civil War.
In the 1940s, the construction of Douglas Dam threatened to cover Dandridge and the courthouse with waters from Douglas Lake. However, the town and courthouse were saved from extinction by President Roosevelt’s executive orders to build a dike to prevent the flooding of Dandridge. Since that time, a two-story brick addition has been constructed on the west side of the original courthouse to accommodate growth to the county.