In a place called Munfordville…

Hart County Courthouse – Munfordville, Ky.

Hart County has long been a place that I heard much about, but had never visited. A truly good friend from college was a Munfordvillian, and he used to regale me with stories of its importance in the Civil War. We used to laugh as my friend would amp up his southern drawl, and begin to speak of the battles that took place in this tiny little community – including tales of the local boy who went on to be a general in the Confederate Army, General Simon Bolivar Buckner.

Turns out he was right. Hart County was first settled in the late 18th century around the Horse Cave area, with Munfordville being settled in 1816. Munfordville was named for Richard T. Munford, the man who originally owned the land upon which the town sits. Its strategic position along the railroad that ran between Louisville and Nashville made it an important location during the Civil War. Throughout the war, bridges were burned both figuratively and literally in Hart County.

John Hunt Morgan burned the bridge over Bacon Creek in 1861.  During the Battle of Munfordville in 1862, Confederate General Braxton Bragg, at the urging of General Buckner, captured approximately 4,000 Union troops under the command of John T. Wilder. Bragg’s men also burned the bridge which crossed the Green River.

This is the third courthouse in Hart County, constructed in 1928. Except for a small circa 1918 bandstand, it is the only building within the court square itself. Listed on the National Register in 1980, this two-story Colonial Revival has an aura of classical Beaux-Arts design. It kind of reminded me of an old high school. When I visited, there appeared to be some renovation going on near the front entrance – a positive sign as judicial activities moved in 2008 to the new judicial center one block east of the old court square.