Since renovations began last year on the Anson County Courthouse, County Manager Lawrence Gatewood says his office has received many questions about the lettering on the face of the courthouse, which uses the letter “v” rather than “u” on the words “County” and “Courthouse.”
“One citizen, who will remain unnamed, even quipped that people from Anson County in those days when the building was built were backwards and didn’t know how to spell,” Gatewood said.
Although that citizen’s opinion is definitely not the case, Gatewood said all the questions he received spurred him to ask architect Ansel Broome, who has helped restore the courthouse’s exterior to its original condition, what the use of the letter “v” may mean.
“Ansel has done the research,” Gatewood said. “Let me hasten to add that Ansel is man responsible for the successfully renovation of the exterior of the courthouse. He and his team have done a terrific job on this complex project.”
Broome reported that there could be a variety of reasons for the use of the letter “v” rather than a “u” in the spelling of “Covrthovse.”
“Some sources explain that the ‘v’ was used in lieu of the ‘u’ since it was difficult to chisel into most common stone building materials,” he said. “That in itself does not make sense because the letter ‘o’ was used and it is certainly as difficult to chisel as the letter ‘u.’”
Broome said that another popular theory is that it was used because Romans used the ‘v’ as a vowel, and often used ‘u’ and ‘v’ interchangeably. However, Broome did not think that was accurate either because Romans were known to have adopted the Latin alphabet, which did not contain the letter “u.”
“After researching many sources,” he said, “the most plausible explanation for ‘Courthouse’ being spelled with a ‘v’ is that ‘Covrthovse’ is Latin, and was derived from the Latin alphabet. The Latins used the letter ‘v’ for the letter ‘u’ and also sometimes the letter ‘w’ as well, since both of the letters ‘u’ and ‘w’ were not in the original Latin alphabet.”