Historic Missouri courthouses featured in Supreme Court exhibit

11 October 2002

Historic Missouri courthouses featured in Supreme Court exhibit

Contact: Beth Riggert, Communications Counsel
Supreme Court of Missouri
Desk: 573-751-3676
Cell: 573-619-2849

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Visitors to the Supreme Court of Missouri can learn about some of the state's early county courthouses through an exhibit currently on display in the building's lobby. The four panels are part of "The Verdict of History" exhibit and are on loan to the Court from the Missouri State Archives through December 22, 2002.

"Missouri has a rich architectural history, and the photographs of the buildings in this display exemplify the simple but elegant beauty of Missouri's 19th century courthouses," Supreme Court Archivist Joe Benson said. The exhibit features photographs of the Old St. Louis Courthouse and county courthouses in Boone, Cole and Jackson counties.

The Old St. Louis Courthouse, originally completed in 1828 and expanded through 1845, is shown through an 1865 Thomas Easterly daguerreotype. It is the scene of reenactments of the trial in the federal Dred Scott case that eventually was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1857 and that helped fuel the flames of civil war. It also was the federal courthouse where Louis D. Brandeis, who later would serve more than two decades as a U.S. Supreme Court justice, was admitted to The Missouri Bar in 1878.

The original Cole County Courthouse, constructed in the mid-1830s, is depicted in a photograph of an 1859 engraving. This building also provided space for state government when the state capitol building burned in 1837. The original courthouse was razed and replaced in 1896 by the structure that continues to operate today as the county's courthouse. The newer structure, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, also is featured in the exhibit.

 The original Boone County Courthouse, built in 1847, served as the county's courthouse until it was destroyed by fire in 1909. During that time, horses served as the mode of transportation, as shown in the photograph of the original building. All that remains of that building today are its four columns, which stand on the front lawn of the county's current courthouse, built during the Great Depression.

Changes in transportation become evident in the exhibit's 1905 photograph of the Jackson County Courthouse in Independence, which shows early automobiles dominating the streets in this hometown of President Harry S. Truman.

To schedule a guided tour of the exhibit and the 95-year-old Supreme Court Building, visitors should call 573-751-4144. More than 21,400 visitors toured the Court during the last year.