Murfreesboro TN Homes: Murfreesboro TN Rutherford County Courthouse - Civil War & The Human Fly Tales!

Murfreesboro TN Rutherford County Courthouse - Civil War & The Human Fly Tales!

The Rutherford County Court House in rutherford county court house Murfreesboro, TN was founded
in 1803 and completed in 1859.  This stunning piece of architecture is one of only six pre-Civil War court houses that remains standing in Tennessee.  The court house has been renovated and still serves as the government seat for Rutherford County.  The court house, like Murfreesboro, is rich in history.   

The court house and the surrounding downtown square were the scene of heavy fighting during the Civil War.  Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest and his army captured Murfreesboro from Union troops on July 13, 1862.  The court house grounds became a campsite for both Union and Confederate soldiers.  The court house then served as Union Army headquarters for the rest of the Civil War.  

In 1913 a tornado caused extensive damage to the court house and the downtown murfreesboro tn tornado 1913historic square but thankfully the court house was able to be repaired.  By the middle of the 20th century, there was a movement across the state that resulted in historic buildings being demolished to make way for modern new structures.  Due to the dedication and hard work of many local Murfreesboro residents, the court house was renovated rather than be demolished by a wrecking ball.  It is hard to imagine that this stunning piece of history came perilously close to being destroyed!  

Although time has taken a toll on the court house and some things have been altered, the character of the original building remains.  The clock and cupola were replaced and some wings have been added to the original structure.  The court house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.  

One of my favorite stories about the Courthouse is about the “Human Fly.”  I heard thisclock tower rutherford county court houe tale during the Boro Story Tellers Haunted Murfreesboro Walking Tour.   It was the spring of 1923 and the Great Depression was causing people to come up with unique ways to make money.  A young man arrived in town and proclaimed himself the “Human Fly.”  He bragged to everyone around, including the newspaper reporters, that he had great abilities and performed dangerous daredevil acts.  He proudly announced that he would scale the court house building all the way to the top of the clock tower for a very small fee. Everyone in town chipped in to see this unknown man perform his great feat.  

murfreesboro tn historic squareWhen enough money had been collected, the time and date were set with much fan fare.  The human fly successfully scaled the building to the very top of the clock tower where he waved to the cheering crowd below.  But, as he began his descent, a light mist began to form.  Without warning the man lost his footing and fell to his death in front of the crowd.  The young man had told no one his real name or where he was from.  So, for five days the body of the Human Fly was placed on display in the front window of the local funeral parlor in a glass casket.  Locals hoped that someone would pass by and recognize the poor fellow.   No one did, so the young man was buried in Evergreen Cemetary in an unmarked grave.  He will forever be known as the “Human Fly.”  

To learn more about the city of Murfreesboro TN and its interesting history, you can murfreesboro tn clock towertake a self-guided walking tour around the court house and the downtown square.  Historical plaques and markers are in place that will share many facts about the buildings found on the downtown square.   I highly recommend the haunted tour narrated by the Boro Story Tellers available every October.  

Murfreesboro has grown from a small town which a humble beginning to a vibrant and bustling city.  Despite the modern amenities found in Murfreesboro today, it will forever remain linked to its rich and unique history.  The Rutherford County Court House  proudly stands as a reminder of that history today.



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Please visit:  SOLDONTN & 

Sherri Wellborn, Keller Williams Realty

Reliant Realty

640 Broadmor Blvd
Murfreesboro, TN 37129

615-566-3789 CELL

615-225-9600 Office

Comment balloon 4 commentsSherri Berry • September 08 2011 11:00AM


Sherri,  great history and story telling about Murfreesboro.  I love reading stuff like this about area.  Well done! 


Posted by Lee & Pamela St. Peter, Making Connections to Success in Real Estate (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices YSU Realty: (919) 645-2522) over 9 years ago

Good morning Sherri, I really dig the old photos of the square in the 'Boro. The old dirt streets are a trip... 

Posted by Michael Thornton, Nashville Area - Photography & Videography (RadnorLake Video) over 9 years ago

Good morning Pamela - We have a really cool town filled with history!  Thanks for your comment!!


Hi Michael - I love the old photographs too!  Hard to believe that is a real picture of our downtown district!  

Posted by Sherri Berry, Murfreesboro TN Homes & Real Estate (Reliant Realty, Murfreesboro) over 9 years ago

Nice period piece Sherry. You painted a great story in my mind with your words (and the great photos)...I was especially intrigued by the "Human Fly." Poor fella is right! 

Posted by Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD, REALTORS® in Clark County, WA (ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors) over 9 years ago

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