Media, all Missourians invited to attend open house celebrating Supreme Court Building's centennial

17 October 2008


Media, all Missourians invited to attend open house celebrating Supreme Court Building's centennial


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Supreme Court of Missouri and the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau invite all Missouri citizens to attend an open house from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 23, at the Supreme Court Building, 207 W. High St., Jefferson City, to celebrate the end of the building's centennial year. The open house will kick off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11:30 a.m. in the lobby as a rededication in honor of the historic building.

The three-story red-brick building, which opened in October 1907, features French Renaissance architecture, stone pillars at each wing of the front façade, stone trim and a slate roof. Prominent in its lobby is a massive marble staircase. The building houses the offices of the Supreme Court clerk and the clerk's staff, two courtrooms, the two-story high Supreme Court Library, and, by statute, the office of the state attorney general.

The open house will include guided tours of the courtroom where oral arguments take place, portraits of past Supreme Court judges, the library and a judge's chambers. Guests also will be able to see relics and displays not usually open to the public, including rare historic books such as Henry Bracton's "On the Laws and Customs of England" (circa 1257); Nicholas Statham's "Abridgment on the Law" (circa 1470); and Sir Robert Brooke's "La Graunde: An Abridgement" (1573).  

The Supreme Court Building opened its doors for business in October 1907. It was built with the proceeds from the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair in St. Louis. The Missouri General Assembly originally appropriated $185,000 from those proceeds for the building, but by the time it opened – 10 months behind schedule – the state was over its budget by about $215,000, with a total cost of approximately $400,000. To reconstruct the building today would cost at least $15 to $20 million.

The Supreme Court of Missouri was established in 1820, one year before Missouri was granted statehood. In 1875, after the constitution was changed to require the Court to hear oral arguments in Jefferson City, the judges heard cases in the basement of the Capitol Building. In 1877, the first Supreme Court building was constructed southeast of the Capitol Building, roughly where the Missouri Department of Transportation building now stands.

In the early 1900s, the state of Missouri chose to build a new Supreme Court Building on the site of the mansion of Jefferson City's first mayor, Thomas Lawson Price. Price went on to become the state's lieutenant governor, a U.S. Army brigadier general under President Abraham Lincoln, and a member of the U.S. Congress.

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