Fredericksburg City Beat

This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.

Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or

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Courts needs nothing new for Fredericksburg

(This is meant to accompany Sunday’s story about the possibility that judges could order Fredericksburg to build new courts.)

Circuit Courthouse in 1881. Courtesy HFFI. City has never had perfect court facilities

Think this is the first time Fredericksburg has been prodded by judicial officials to fix up its halls of justice? Think again. Back in 1849, when Fredericksburg was still a town, judges imposed a $2 levy on all town residents to pay for a new courthouse. The Fredericksburg News had called that courthouse, "an unsightly pile of bricks." Still, it would be three more years before the Town Council would award the contract for the construction of the Renwick courthouse that houses the Circuit Court today. Even the new facility didn’t draw rave reviews from all. It was hard to keep heated and cooled, and one City Councilman even called it, "the sepulchre of the human voice" for its poor acoustics See this story from August 2007 for more about Fredericksburg’s history of complaining about its court facilities.


What’s wrong with the courts we have now?

The Circuit Court is the most problematic, but judges have said the security situations in the General District and Juvenile and Domestic Relations courts are less than ideal. There is also a desire to put all three courts in one building, where sheriff’s deputies could man a single entrance and where members of the public, judges and inmates could have three separate sets of hallways in which to circulate in the building.

Documents, laws, etc.

Here is the letter from the late Judge John W. Scott Jr. to his fellow judges about Fredericksburg’s court needs.

Here is Judge Harry Taliaferro’s letter to the city urging action on the courts needs.

Here is City Manager Phil Rodenberg’s response.

Here is the state code section that authorizes judges to order courts built.

Here is the original courts feasibility study the city commissioned to start trying to figure out how to build a new courthouse.

Here is last year’s story about the City Council’s vote to keep the courts downtown.