Civic buildings often have many different uses over time. The 1860 Courthouse is no exception. It has served Manatee County in many different ways. Shortly after being built, it became a focal point of controversy between Manatee County residents. This controversy was only concluded after the Civil War several years later.
In 1858, land was offered to the county for a courthouse square. A committee formed to look over plans for a courthouse and jail. The committee consisted of Reverend Ezekiel Glazier, N. P. Hunter, and J. G. Williams. On December 17, 1858, the committee agreed to pay Glazier $5 for plans and $700 for the construction of both buildings. The land was about two and a half blocks north of Manatee Village Historical Park, where the Courthouse is now. It was finished in April of 1860 but the jail was never built.
Left: 1857 map of Florida showing Manatee County. The county contained parts of present day Hardee, DeSoto, and Sarasota Counties. Map Courtesy of: House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College.