Respecting the Past
The old Martin County Courthouse has been restored to its original 1937 architectural design and houses two fine art galleries.
The long history of the Court House Cultural Center begins in 1908, as the first school house in Stuart, built on land originally donated by Mr. R.R. Frazier. When a new schoolhouse was completed in 1923, the old building became the Martin County Court House.
In 1936, the County applied to the Works Progress Administration for aid. The approved project addition, designed by architect L. Phillip Clarke, is a rare example of post-depression Art Deco. Visible on its façade are symbols and inscriptions attesting to the vigorous and idealistic era of Roosevelt's W.P.A., as are the cast friezes and cornices adhered to the top of the building.
Scheduled to be demolished in 1989, it was barely saved by concerned citizens, who lobbied for grant money from Florida State Department of Historic Preservation and matched by funds from the City of Stuart.
The restoration saved the original awning windows, judge's vault, marble staircase, and terrazzo floor inlayed with the commemorative emblem inside the front door. Other significant artifacts include two benches used by visitors during court proceedings and one of the chairs from the jurors' box.
The building houses many photographs depicting the history of the building.
Planning for the Future
Saving an historic building is important for the community, but making that "gem" of a building special has been the goal of the Arts Council.
Fine Arts Exhibits
At the Court House Cultural Center, we strive to celebrate and share the arts with the commuity. In keeping with this, our Galleries are host to local, regional, and internationally known artists. The gallery offers guided tours by appointment, extensive and varied opportunities for those who wish to volunteer, and an ideal location for classes, receptions, meetings, or special occasions.
Court House Cultural Center hours are 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., Tuesday - Friday, or by appointment. Saturday, 11:00 am - 2 pm except holidays. Admission to the center is free, though a donation is greatly appreciated.