The Queen Anne's County Court House
Oldest Court House in continuous use in the State of Maryland
The Queen Anne's County Court House was constructed at the time when the county seat was removed from Queenstown to Centreville. It was accepted by the County Court on June 1, 1796,and ordered to be "taken, held and deemed to be the proper Court House of Queen Anne's County."
The Court House (and the town of Centreville, which was built simultaneously) was erected on a plantation known as "Chesterfield," the ancestral home of Judge Joseph Hopper Nicholson, who was then living on the tract. Later, Judge Nicholson became Chief Judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit (then comprising Baltimore and Harford counties) and a judge of the Court of Appeals. He was also the member of the U.S. House of Representatives who, painfully ill, was carried into Congress to cast the deciding vote for Thomas Jefferson in his battle with Aaron Burr over the presidency.
Not too incidentally, Judge Nicholson was the person who suggested the music for the "Star-Spangled Banner" (Francis Scott Key was his brother-in-law).
Chief Judge Carroll T. Bond once wrote that Judge Nicholson was "another of those half-forgotten personalities who wait by the way to reward historical investigation."
The Court House remained in its original state until after the Civil War. In 1876, plans were made to rebuild that structure "on a scale which will change it from one of the most inconvenient to one of the most desirable of our county buildings."
Aside from this reconstruction, which was accomplished for $6,800, the exterior of the Court House is virtually the same as it was when originally constructed. An interesting (and often overlooked) feature is the gold eagle which appears in the pediment of the main portion of the building. It is undoubtedly a reflection of the fervent patriotism of the early citizens of the County, who were less than a decade from the ratification of the Federal Constitution.