Garner Law Office
Walking Tour Prepared By Kevin & Lisa Ragland
With History By: Yolanda Reid & Linda Dean
This building sits on original town lot #15 which was purchased in 1799 by George Bell and included all the land from 5th Avenue to 6th Avenue. George Bell erected a store on this lot in which the county court met just prior to the completion of the first courthouse. John E. Garner purchased the property in May 1850 upon which sat a log building which Garner updated and covered the logs to use as his law office. For several decades this structure was said to be the oldest building on the square. However, through research it was discovered that in May 1891 the building was set afire, was a total loss and the arsonist was never proven. The Tennessean newspaper gave the story as "The law office of John E. & A. E. Garner burned last Friday morning nearly all the books were burned which had been collected by Gen. Garner for half a century, and by his son, A. E. Garner, for a fourth of a century. It was one of the finest law libraries in the State. There was no insurance on house or library.
The house was built eighty ears ago (about 1811) and was made entirely of logs. It was owned and run by John Y. Hutchison's grandfather seventy-five years ago as a hotel. " December 1891 the Tennessean reported that they were moving into their new building. Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps reveal that the old building's longest side had fully faced the square, but the new building had been built slightly south of the old one and was turned the direction you see today. The Garner's and their heirs continued ownership of the building until 1945 when they sold it to local banker Culver Burnett. Burnett rented the building to John R. Long, attorney and Springfield City Mayor and in 1957 Long added John D. Sprouse, attorney. By 1973 George Price, State Farm Insurance Agent rented the building prior to it becoming the Chamber of Commerce office in 1979 through 1984. The building housed the District Attorney Office from 1984 through 1994, and in 1994 Phyllis Dozier Morris made this her law office, she and husband Dent Morris purchased the property in 1998 and she continues her law practice here in 2021.