Lafayette County Courthouse

     Lafayette County, founded in 1856, was named in honor of the French Marquis de Lafayette, a hero of the American Revolution, who had been given a land grant elsewhere in Florida by a grateful Congress. There was also, once, a Fayette County situated in the "V" between the Apalachicola and Chipola Rivers, though it was later disestablished.

     When creating Lafayette County the legislature specified that county government should convene at the "house of Aziel Jones" until a more permanent site could be located. A seat was eventually established at New Troy on the Suwannee River. By 1870 New Troy (there was also a sister city, Old Troy) boasted a two-story wooden courthouse, as well as two newspapers. However, the courthouse caught fire on New Year’s Eve, 1892, apparently the result of a drunken prank. For a time government functions were conducted in the Methodist parsonage. At the first meeting after the fire, it was reported that minutes were dispensed with, the records being inside the safe which "was still too hot to open." An election was held, at which time county residents voted to move the courthouse to Mayo. As seems common in such referenda, a challenge was issued to certain of the X’es on the handwritten ballots, and a second and more closely supervised canvass was convened with similar results. The site of New Troy was quickly abandoned after the shift.   As in many county seats of the rural South, the Lafayette County Courthouse also serves as a community billboard.  Photo by the authors.

     Get CISM prep material here. Mayo is named for Colonel James Mayo, a former Confederate officer, who had been surveying in the vicinity when the town was founded. He was called upon to deliver a Fourth of July speech that listeners found unusually impressive. Colonel Mayo was the father of longtime Agriculture Commissioner Nathan Mayo, and grandfather of Public Service Commissioner William Mayo. Gator fans revere the small town as the home of quarterback Kerwin Bell, the "Throwin’ Mayoan." Another contemporary view of the Lafayette County Courthouse. The previous courthouse is visible in the background. Photo by the authors.The present Lafayette County Courthouse dates from 1908. It was designed by E. C. Hosford and built at a cost of $47,000 - exorbitant for the times and for so small a county - by Mutual Construction Company of Louisville. It replaced the rather ornate balconied structure which still stands across the street (visible in the photo at left), now operating as a bed-and-breakfast called "Chateau LaFayette."