Courthouse Square Project

Historic Courthouse Square Project January Update

Progress is happening quickly on the Courthouse Square renovations, with the stage beginning to take sahpe and the historic rock wall being replaced around the square. A timeline of recent events is below.

  • 1/4/21 Began pouring Green Street Sidewalk
  • The Stone Mason started laying stone on The Green Street Wall
  • Waterproofing contractor began work on building walls.
  • Midstate continues to install new water lines.
  • 1/7/21 More Green Street Sidewalk and Rock work completed.  
  • 1/11/21 Ash tree removed at the corner of Union and Sterling
  • 1/13/21 Tree removed from South Green Street side across from Marquee Cinemas


Last updated 1/21/2021

Historic Courthouse Square Project November Update

Obviously the weather has been a major factor in the progress made over the last 2 weeks. 

Regardless there has been progress made.

  • First there seems to be much talk about the removal of the Senator Sam statue.  Let me assure everyone that he is safely wrapped up and in the courthouse for safe keeping.  The contractor was not comfortable with leaving him in place while work was done around him.  Once work is complete the statue will be replaced back in the original location.  (picture is attached of Senator Sam)
  • I will also repeat that we will be putting back the rock wall on the Green Street Side.  Once in ground services are in place on the sidewalk and then a concrete structure is built to retain the dirt wall, the original rock will then be laid back by an experienced rock layer


The Statue of Senator Sam is being safely stored while work on the square progresses.

Other items to date:

  • Soil undercut was made
  • Stone placement for footers in place
  • Rebar installed
  • Concrete footers poured  11/06
  • Sidewalk electrical boxes to be installed

Over the next 2 weeks you will see a big difference once the walls for the stage area go up.

Last updated Nov. 6, 2020.

Historic Courthouse Square Project October Update

The square truly looks like a construction site these days! As with all early days in a project it is mostly for removal of items and the beginnings of infrastructure.

To date:

  • 3 Renderings of the finished project were placed on the construction fencing on Green Street (across from the theater) and on East Union Street across from Benjamin's for all to see!
  • Trees that were scheduled for removal have been taken down and most of them removed from the site. New trees will be planted in various areas but not necessarily in the same locations. Some trees had to be removed because of the new design and some because they were overgrown for the space.
  • The Green Street rock wall has now been completely removed and the rock placed on palettes to be reused once the concrete masonry unit (CMU) wall is put in place. The CMU wall will hold the dirt in place and will not be seen once the rock wall is rebuilt.
  • The steps leading to the Courthouse, on the Green Street side, across from the theater, have been removed to be rebuilt along with the wall.
  • A bore under Meeting Street, to the other side of the street, was made to provide the entire square with underground utilities, eliminating unsightly overhead wires and poles. Contractors were able to do this without disruption to traffic flow.
  • All Sternberg lighting poles have been removed in preparation for new sidewalks. 
  • Pavers were removed along the Green Street sidewalk and placed on palettes to be reused along Sterling Street with the new sidewalk.
  • There will be new sidewalk poured beside existing pavers along Green Street to match the other sidewalks with pavers.
  • A portion of the grading for the stage area was started in the southwest quadrant.

More information about this page is below.

The Morganton Main Street Program has worked since 1996 to bring about the renovations of the Historic Burke County Courthouse Square.  It has been acknowledged and recommended in two downtown Masterplans, in 1997 and 2018, as a priority for the community.  Finally, in 2020, the Mayor and City Council unanimously and enthusiastically awarded the contract for the project to Wilkie Construction, and made the loan request for the renovation of the Historic Burke County Courthouse Grounds.  When completed, the citizens of Morganton and Burke County will have an amphitheater, all new sidewalks and steps, improved landscaping and a much-needed repaired historic stone wall — all of which should stand strong for at least another 50 years.  It is the Main Street Program’s hope that when completed, the renovations will honor the stature of the Historic Courthouse, modernize the infrastructure, pay homage to the great women who saw to it that a stone wall of substance surrounded the grounds, and be a welcoming symbol of our community by continuing its heritage of being “The Place” to gather for our citizens and visitors.

Renovations to the Historic Burke County Courthouse Square began the week of September 14, as contractors completed demolition of the Jailhouse Gallery.

In order for contractors to work freely, and to keep citizens safe when they are near the construction site, a fence has been placed around the entirety of the Courthouse Square. The fence will remain in place for the duration of the project, which is expected to be complete by summer 2021.

The renovations to the Courthouse Square will see the construction of a new amphitheater, common area, and green space on the southern end of the property that everyone will be able to enjoy. As part of these renovations, the stone wall surrounding the square is being restored.

Currently, the original stones are being removed from a portion of the wall that borders North Green Street. These stones are being kept, and once structural improvements are made, the wall will be rebuilt using the original stones.

This page on our website is dedicated to updating the citizens of Morganton and Burke County on the project as it progresses. It is scheduled to be a 9 month project, with the goal to have an opening celebration in July 2021!  So stay tuned, and watch for monthly updates on this page.  Be sure to take a look at the renderings below that show how it all will look upon completion, and don’t miss the time lapse shots and live stream of the work as it progresses.

Page last updated: October 2, 2020  

Check out the YouTube livestream of the construction here:



1/11/21  Ash tree removed at corner of Union and Sterling

1/13/21 Tree removed at steps across from theater