Historic courthouse to be shut down

Posted on Sep 19 2012 - 11:28am by Lacey Russell

On Sept. 11, in an attempt to save a prospective $1 million, Congress decided to close six courthouses across the South. One of the six is the federal courthouse in Meridian, which was built in 1933 during the Great Depression and has served as both a courthouse and a post office for the southern Mississippi town. The other five are Gadsen, Ala.; Pikeville, Ky.; Wilkesboro, N.C.; Beaufort, S.C.; and Amarillo, Texas. James Meredith filed his lawsuit against The University of Mississippi at the Meridian federal courthouse in 1961 to integrate the school. In 1984, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the only federal courthouse within 80 miles; the nearest ones are in Hattiesburg and Jackson.

“It’s pretty bad that they are closing that federal courthouse,” said Stanley Dearman, who was a reporter for The Meridian Star during the Meredith case and a former owner and editor of The Neshoba Democrat. “I think that they need a courthouse there.” This courthouse is also where the trials were held in 1964 for members of the Ku Klux Klan for conspiracy of the murders of three civil rights workers. Seven members were convicted, including the Imperial Wizard, in October 1967. “I was there for the James Meredith case,” Dearman said. “It’s an end of (an) era; it was constructed during the Depression and was built up from there over the years.” According to a released statement, Congressman Gregg Harper is sad to see the courthouse go. “I was disappointed today to learn that the Judicial Conference included Meridian in their list of announced closures,” he said. The courthouse contains an engraving by the entrance that says, “Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night shall stay these couriers.” “It made me sad to know they were closing it, but I guess their word is final,” Dearman said.