Since the late 1700s, the iconic Chatham County courthouse in the middle of Pittsboro’s downtown has served as a familiar mile marker. Its clock tower has been a beacon for university students, vacationers to Carolina’s coastal beaches, and a welcome sight for soldiers and itinerant workers returning home.
Who We Are
Pittsboro is a small town with unique shops and a friendly, diverse population of about 4300 people — families, artists, students, farmers, empty nesters, alternative healers, and retirees—many who smile and wave whether they know you or not.
Where We Are
Pittsboro sits at the intersection of highways 15-501, 64, and 87 near the center of Chatham County’s 707 square miles in the center of the state. Pittsboro is a short drive from the Haw River and Jordan Lake State Park which provide a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities.
Pittsboro is 16 miles south of Chapel Hill, 25 miles west of Research Triangle Park and RDU International Airport, and 30 miles west of the state capital in Raleigh. Pittsboro is 17 miles north of Sanford and 16 miles east of Siler City.
Where We’ve Been
In 1771 Chatham County was carved out of Orange County. The first county courthouse was built just south of what would become Pittsboro. On January 6, 1787, the North Carolina General Assembly authorized nine commissioners to purchase one hundred acres and the Town of Pittsboro was formed as the seat of Chatham County. The town was named for William Pitt the Younger, second son of the Earl of Chatham who had defended American rights in the British Parliament.
Pittsboro’s iconic traffic circle started out as a square bisected by four streets lined by inns and taverns. “Courtweeks”, when county justices of the peace ruled on local cases, became social and commercial highlights for the people of Pittsboro. Crowds produced a prosperous market for farmers, peddlers of jewelry, dry goods and medicines as well as a forum for itinerant actors, musicians, and medical practitioners.
In 1881 a new brick courthouse was built on the square. The Classical Revival brick design featured the familiar three stage cupola. During a renovation in 2010, the interior of the courthouse was gutted by a massive fire. A rebuilt and modernized courthouse was opened in 2013 resuming its function as the aesthetic heart of Pittsboro’s Historic District.
Where We’re Going
As the county seat of Chatham, Pittsboro’s population is about 4,300 as of July, 2016. In the 2000 census, it was just over 2,200— a 95% increase.
Our location amidst lush rolling lands, near major metropolitan centers accessible via significant highways makes change inevitable. Chatham Park, the 8,000 acre “live, work, play” development is under construction and expected to add significant growth for the next 40 years.
It is, therefore, all the more important that we preserve and protect the unique flavor of downtown Pittsboro. The Main Street Pittsboro program aims to do just that.