The Old Courthouse is now operated by the National Parks Service. During my visit I was fortunate to meet Nancy, a park ranger who not only gave a great tour of the structure, but who was also kind enough to mail me a few gazettes about Lewis and Clark. The famous explorers began their expedition not far from here on their way to the Pacific Coast. With all of the places I've been to, I can't emphasize enough what a difference it makes when you meet someone who has a real passion for the location you're exploring.
One story that I found particularly interesting was the case of Dred and Harriet Scott, who were slaves that filed for their freedom at this courthouse in 1846. Their case made it all the way to the United States Supreme Court, where in 1857 it was ruled that the Scotts, and all African Americans, were not citizens of the United States. Opposition to this decision increased tensions and was one of the causes that lead to the American Civil War.
This structure is truly an underrated gem that many seem to miss on their way to the Gateway Arch. It really is worth your time to explore though, if only to stand in the center of the rotunda to look up into the incredible dome. These are some of the images I captured as I wandered through this historic courthouse in the heart of St. Louis.
|Statue of Dred and Harriet Scott.|