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 and is now the visitors' center for the Gateway Arch. Visit the Old Courhouse to purchase your timed tickets to enter the Arch, ride to the top and see the film Monument to the Dream. You can also learn the current state of construction on the grounds and get directions for walking to the Arch while avoiding the latest construciton closures.

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.



Arch construction on grounds

Construction on the Gateway Arch grounds.

Sue Ford/NPS

Due to construction, the capacity of the entire Gateway Arch facility will be limited. Beginning Monday, March 2, each guest planning to enter the Gateway Arch is required to have either a Journey to the Top ticket or an Arch Entry-Only ticket to be allowed access to the facility. Purchase tickets in advance at http://ticketsforthearch.com, or
in person at the Old Courthouse, or by calling 877-982-1410.

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