By Toni Stauffer
The Old Russell County Courthouse in Seale has been undergoing bathroom renovations, which are now complete. Both the men’s and the women’s bathrooms were modernized with new tile, stalls, toilets, sinks, and mirrors. Also, a large bridal room was added with an antique French love seat and chairs. The courthouse is available to rent for events, such as weddings, reunions, and parties. Plans are underway to add a groom’s suite. An elevator has also been added to allow easier access to the second floor. The septic system is working, but is being evaluated for an upgrade.
Built in 1868 and listed on both the national and state historic registries, the courthouse became the county seat after Crawford when Lee County was formed. In 1934, the county seat was moved to Phenix City and the courthouse eventually became abandoned. In the 1970s, the county commission voted to demolish the old building due to maintenance and repair costs; however, residents in Seale, and elsewhere in the county, organized and raised enough funds, through events such as yard sales, to save the building. The Seale Labor Day festival held on the courthouse grounds every year originated from those yard sales.
Last year, more than 7,000 people attended events held at the Old Russell County Courthouse. “It’s a very good tourism piece for the county,” Commissioner Chance Corbett said. “It’s very good for the community and the county all together—to get people together and get them here to socialize and see this piece of history that we have.”
While the courthouse has been available for rent for years, the only draw was the enormous ballroom upstairs. Rentals were only occasional; however, now with the renovations, which also included a new paved parking area, the courthouse is now booked on a near constant basis.
“We really have nice facilities now,” Corbett said. “These are nicer than you would find in most rental venues. Come to Russell County, come to the Seale area, learn the history, and have a very good venue that is probably third of the price for this size space anywhere else.”
For more information, call 334-298-6426 and visit www.rcala.com.