9 August 2001
Supreme Court tours increase by more than 27 percent
JEFFERSON CITY, MO. -- Educational tours of the Supreme Court of Missouri during fiscal 2001 increased by more than 27 percent. During those 12 months, about 19,070 people toured the Supreme Court. That number is up from the approximately 15,000 people who toured the Court during the previous fiscal year. Visitors this year were diverse, including numerous schoolchildren ranging from third-grade pupils to high-school students to foreign exchange students from Germany and Russia; members of a quilting group; and a delegation from a Utah convention and visitor's bureau.
"Opening the Court and its facilities for public tours is just one part of our efforts to increase citizens' access to the judiciary," Chief Justice Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr., said. "This is a beautiful old building with a rich history, and we are happy to share it with our visitors."
The building, which was completed in 1907, took two years to finish and was paid for with $400,000 from the proceeds of the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. It was constructed almost completely with materials from Missouri, including marble, iron, mahogany and quarter-sawn oak. Only the slate roof is foreign to the state; its materials were from West Virginia. In its 94-year history, the Supreme Court Building has served as home to thousands of court cases as well as the Missouri Senate, which used the Division I courtroom as its chambers after the capitol building burned down in 1911.
Building tours, which usually last 30 minutes, are available year-round. Visitors learn about the history of the building and tour one of its two courtrooms. They also see the library, which holds more than 110,000 volumes, including cases as far back as 1620 and one book from the 16th century. The library also has a glass case displaying original hand-written documents from the famed Dred Scott case, heard by the Supreme Court of Missouri in the early 1850s.
To give visitors a better understanding of the Court, the tours usually are guided by the law clerks to the judges of the Supreme Court. The law clerks, who are attorneys who assist the judges in researching and writing opinions, have handled groups in excess of 75 people and have fielded questions about topics ranging from salaries to court procedures to death penalty cases.
Anyone interested in scheduling a tour can contact Beth Riggert, communications counsel, at 573-751-4144, or by sending an e-mail request to firstname.lastname@example.org.