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Why Are There Two Courthouses in Guilford County?

A coworker recently asked me, “Why does Guilford County have two courthouses, unlike other counties in North Carolina?” I was born in Greensboro, have lived most of my life in Guilford County, and honestly had no idea. After a brief amount of internet searching, I ran across a 1999 article written in the News and Record by Paul Garber, “High Point Courthouse Changed Legal Landscape.”

In the early 1900s, High Point was growing in both the industrial and urban sectors, so much that in ten years, the city doubled in size to just over 9,500 residents. Most people from the Piedmont area know that High Point and its residents have always felt like they lived in Greensboro’s shadow. Even in the days of the thriving furniture industry, some people felt that High Point was beneath Greensboro, mostly due to each city’s size. Some Greensboro residents felt High Point was a “blue-collar” area. I always thought that view was somewhat odd. Greensboro’s major employers were the Cone textile industry and the Sears distribution center, all of which were very blue-collar industries based on personal experience.

Around 1910, High Point made its first attempt to separate from Guilford County and form Piedmont County, with High Point as the county seat. The residents of Guilford County and residents of Jamestown and Davidson County that would be affected by the change hindered the attempt to form a new county. Guilford County government officials fought the formation of the new county due to fears of reducing the political power of Guilford County in the state. Additional attempts in 1911 and 1913 to form a new county with High Point as the county seat failed.

Guilford County built the original High Point courthouse in 1937, making it the state’s 101st courthouse. The original High Point Courthouse saw the first female Superior Court Judge take the bench and had two presidential campaigns occur on the courthouse steps. The courthouse stood at Main Street and Green Drive until 1960.

Costing over 36 million dollars (three times the predicted price) and taking more than four years to build (twice the projected time), the current High Point Courthouse opened in 1990. The current courthouse is four stories tall and includes bed space to house 274 inmates. While the opening of another courthouse was controversial initially, the facility is now considered a necessity. Providing court and detention services for the High Point City and Guilford County Sheriffs Departments prevents officers from driving from one end of the county to the other. This resource creates more time for police duties in the community. Between 1990 and 2020, Guilford County’s population increased by about 200,000 people. The High Point Courthouse relieves approximately one-third or more of the county’s legal workload, solidifying the need for the second courthouse in this area.