Our Home: the Court House Cultural Center

Getting ready to open the 25th annual All Florida Juried Art Show made us reminisce about the history of our life in this historic treasure of a building.  One of the few examples of art deco architecture in Martin County, the building was saved by a group of vocal citizens lead in part by Mr. Peter Jefferson (who sadly just recently passed away).

WinterT CHCC front of bldg w trees DSC_0035 sized for web lge

The long history of the Court House Cultural Center begins in 1908, as the first schoolhouse 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 Courthouse. 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. The addition features 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 saved by concerned citizens, who lobbied for grant money from the 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 inlaid 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. To this day, the building houses many photographs depicting the history of the building.


A great season of exhibitions awaits! We’re featuring some of Martin County’s finest artist / mentors and hosting a show of function ceramics, curated by Mae Wong and Ellen Bates. Plus we are gearing up for the 30th Marvin S Cone High School Juried Show which will be followed by a special invitational to alumni of the high school show! WOW!


Join us!

Come see the wide variety of art selected by juror, Josh Davis for the 25th Annual All Florida Juried Art Show on Friday, September 25, 5:30-7 or if you can’t make that, plan to attend his lecture on Saturday, September 26 at 11 am. The Gallery is open Tuesday-Friday, 10 am – 4 pm and on Saturdays, 11 am – 2 pm. Volunteers to serve as docents, gallery guides and event helpers are always needed, please call to sign up. 772.287.6676 ext 2 or email at info@martinarts.org.  For the opening, a donation of $5/person is encouraged; other hours, the gallery is free with a donation always welcome. The Arts Council of Martin County is a non profit organization.

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