Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary
Old Government House

Old Government House Photo 1

Old Government House
Historic Augusta, Inc.

Old Richmond County Courthouse or Old Government House, c. 1801, is one of the oldest remaining public buildings in Augusta. It was the seat of local government until 1821, when the government sold it to former Mayor Samuel Hale, who converted the public building into an elegant residence. The building was also home to several prominent families during the 1800s including those of Colonel Paul Fitzsimmons, a Charleston shipping magnate; Colonel James Gardner, editor of the Augusta Constitutionalist; and James Gregg, son of the founder of Graniteville Mills. In 1877, the Murphey family bought the property. Dr. Eugene Murphey was a well-known physician and humanist. He and his family owned the home for 75 years.

Dr. Murphey’s estate sold the property to the Augusta Junior League in the 1950s. The organization used the home as a reception facility until the 1970s and then gave it to Historic Augusta, which sold it to a development firm in the late 1970s. The City of Augusta purchased it in 1987. The city hired VGR Architects, PA, to rehabilitate the building into a reception hall that would also preserve its historic significance. Old Government House is once again a public building with a gracious residential character, accommodating parties and receptions.

The architectural history of Old Government House is particularly notable. It was built in a simple Federal style of brick with parapet end chimneys, appropriate for its governmental functions. When the building became a residence, the owners stuccoed the walls adding the elaborate recessed wings, iron portico, balcony, and window trim, giving it the look of the Regency style. The exterior of the house retains that Regency style today. These changes are thought to have been made between 1821 and 1839.

During the late Greek Revival period, probably in the 1850s, the iron portico was added, and the mantels, all but one door, and door moldings were changed to the Greek Revival style. The mantels were simple marble shelves with arched openings made of black or white marble. The doors were given rectangular sidelights and transoms. The stairway was replaced by an Early Victorian transitional one that is a straight-run but curves slightly when it reaches the central hall of the second floor.

In more modern times, partitions were added in the wings and second floor to provide baths, and the rear porch was enclosed. The stylistic changes to the house, which took place between 1821 and 1860, are compatible with each other and produce the elegant, tasteful, and balanced effect seen today.

Plan your visit

Old Richmond County Courthouse or Old Government House, is located at 432 Telfair St. within the boundaries of the Augusta Downtown Historic District. It is open to the public for free, 8:30am to 5:00pm, Monday-Friday. Call 706-821-1812. Under the name of Murphey House, the building has been documented by the National Park Service's Historic American Buildings Survey.

previous page Next page