Old Courthouse (D. Lancaster)
Built from 1839-1862, the Old Courthouse (part of the Gateway Arch National Park) features restored courtrooms, history exhibits and the beautifully decorated dome. Free admission. Open daily 8 am-4:30 pm.
Highlights and Tips:
- Start in the rotunda, where a glance upward reveals the building's spectacular interior dome, decorated with murals by Carl Wimar .
- First-floor galleries contain exhibits on St. Louis history, Native American Indians, the Lewis and Clark Expedition and significantly, the Dred Scott Decision. Dred Scott, a slave, filed suit for his and his wife's freedom in the Old Courthouse in 1846. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the 1857 decision, which held that Scott and his wife did not have grounds as citizens to sue, helped foment the Civil War.
- Climb the stairs to the second floor and its restored courtrooms to learn more about the 19th century judicial system.
- Then take one more flight of stairs to the third floor for a closer look at the dome and head down to the first-floor gift shop to load up on St. Louis souvenirs.