• Looking up at the Gateway Arch

    Jefferson

    National Expansion Memorial Missouri

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  • Pedestrian Access to the Gateway Arch From Downtown

    Pedestrian traffic on the Chestnut, Market St. and Pine St. bridges will be closed. This leaves Walnut St. and Washington Ave. as the Arch grounds points of entry to and from the city. See link for maps. More »

Old Courthouse

Welcome to the Old Courthouse!

The majestic Old Courthouse has remained over the past 150 years as one of St. Louis' most prominent architectural landmarks. Plan your visit to see all the permanent exhibits and special events! The Old Courthouse was the site of the first two trials of the pivotal Dred Scott case in 1847 and 1850. It was also where Virginia Minor's case for a woman's right to vote came to trial in the 1870s. You may tour this historic structure, and visit the restored courtrooms to learn more about our 19th century judicial system.

St. Louis' Old Courthouse is listed in the National Park Service's National Underground Railroad Network To Freedom. The Network to Freedom recognizes sites, programs and facilities with verifiable associations to the Underground Railroad. The phenomenon popularly known as the Underground Railroad has been broadly defined by the National Park Service as the "historic resistance to enslavement through escape and flight." The Old Courthouse is linked with the story of the Underground Railroad, and with that of slavery, as a property associated with legal challenges to slavery. It was a public forum as well as a courthouse. Slaves were auctioned from its steps in estate settlements, while one man's suit for freedom helped plunge the country into Civil War. The Old Courthouse was the site of hundreds of suits for freedom, but one gained notoriety. In 1847, Dred Scott, with his wife Harriet, sued for, and were granted, their freedom. After many appeals, the case was decided upon by the Supreme Court. The decision stated that slaves were property, and as such, had no right to sue. The Dred Scott Decision hastened the start of the Civil War.

Explore the links at the top of the page to learn about the Old Courthouse's many other exhibits and activities.







Did You Know?

1843 letter

The Museum of Westward Expansion at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial contains over 150 quotes from diaries, journals, letters and speeches. The designers of the museum felt the actual words of nineteenth century pioneers were the most powerful way to tell their story. Click to learn more. More...