Seminole County Courthouse

Seminole County Courthouse (Keith Vincent Collection)

     Long before the birth of Bobby Bowden, people called "Seminoles" migrated into Florida, which earlier had been depopulated of all or most of its original inhabitants - Tequestas, Timucuans, Calusas, and other tribes. The epithet was applied to Yamassees, Muscogees, Oconees, and other peoples collectively known as Creeks, all splinter groups from larger tribes, whose migrations are said to be the result of tribal warfare or other misunderstandings. The name has been translated variously as "runaways" and "wild men." After a series of wars with the United States, many Seminoles agreed to transportation to the "Indian Nations" of present-day Oklahoma, but still others remained unvanquished in the isolated regions of southern Florida. They are today recognized as a separate nation. A county belatedly named in their honor was created in 1913 from the northern portions of Orange County.

     The county seat of Seminole County stands near the site of the 1837 Ft. Mellon, named for an officer killed during one of the Seminole Wars. The surrounding settlement was named "Mellonville" and, until 1856, served as the Orange County seat. The town was renamed Sanford in 1871 after developer Henry Sanford, who had served as general of volunteers in the Civil War and as U. S. Minister to Belgium. In days agone Sanford was renowned as the "Celery Capital of the World."
Seminole County was formed in 1913 out of Orange County and Sanford was selected as its county seat.  The first courthouse was located in the Valdez Building which was a hotel and also housed the Elks Club.  In August, 1913, the Elks moved out ot the Valdez Hotel and built a big beautiful two story brick building.  After the end of World War I, the Elks were forced to sell their new building to the county for the courthouse.  The ballroom of the Elks building became the courtroom and the bowling alley downstairs became the judges' chambers.  Later, the Valdez Hotel was demolished.  In 1972, the courthouse (nee' Elks building) was torn down and a new building and parking lot were built on the same site.

The current Seminole County Courthouse. Photo by Jared Anton

Seminole County Courthouse (Keith Vincent Collection) Seminole County Courthouse & Sheriff's Office (Jared Anton Collection)

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Updated 10/17/03