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The Old Courthouse

Landmarks & Historical Sites, Black History Site

Description

Visit the site of Dred Scott’s historic slavery trial. Begun in 1847, the case focused national attention on the slavery issue, and is considered one of the flashpoints for the start of the Civil War. Copies of court records, period newspaper articles and other artifacts of the case are on display in the second floor rotunda gallery, and groups can participate in reenactment of the infamous trial held in one of the restored courtrooms.

For more information: www.nps.gov/jeff

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Rate & Reviews

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93 Reviews

93 Reviews

Jim M

8/16/2014

Beautiful building inside and out. A must see if visiting the Arch. A bit of a somber tone, due to the ruling of the Dred Scott case (1857), which stated that African-Americans are not citizens, but it's nice to see how far we've come since then.

John C

8/16/2014

This was a pleasant find when visiting St. Louis. It was enlightening to visit a courthouse where such a historic case was decided. We definately did not dedicate enough time in our schedule to fully explore the courthouse and will have to visit it again in the future.

Shannon F

8/16/2014

As out of towners you just have to go up in the arch right? We enjoyed it and it's one of those things you can say you did. Would my life be okay without it...sure. The ride to the top is a little freaky. The view to the east isn't pretty (industrial) but the west is breathtaking. The park and grassy area would be perfect to picnic on during warmer weather. The gift shop has great material on all tjingse Civil War and westward expansion.

Nicholi M

8/16/2014

This place is fairly interesting. Nice movie on the first floor and you can go almost all the way to the top of the dome.

Reggie T

8/16/2014

Nice museum, especially for free. So cool to walk the same steps as Dred and Harriet Scott in pursuit of their freedom prior to the Civil War.

Valbon L

10/26/2014

Beautiful place.

Veater B

2/4/2015

As a stl native this place is great I worked in the arch and have been to the courthouse plenty of times. The history is astonishing!

Jay E

5/7/2015

Historic and right near the St. Louis Arch.

Christofer H

6/8/2015

The Old Courthouse is part of the entire Saint Louis Arch historical area. It's a very interesting place to be in with a lot of history, and this combined with the Arch is a place I plan on bringing my little boy as we come through Saint Louis as we head back west.

Chris H

11/14/2015

Fun experience that gives a decent history of St Louis

Dan H

12/15/2015

It's worth a quick.visit if you are in the area. Pretty impressive architecture

Rusty L

12/15/2015

I think this would've been more fun if it wasn't also handling everything for the arch

Paul S

1/15/2016

Lovely building, nice exhibits. The old courthouse is in excellent condition.

Christian M

1/15/2016

Very cool.

Sean G

2/16/2016

Cool old building with lots of historical information. Fun to wander around in.

Justin L

2/16/2016

Great museum! A must before the arch tour.

Jared D

2/16/2016

Impressive architecture, friendly staff, and interesting history.

Chris L

3/18/2016

This was a very cool little museum, can't wait to see it after the construction. Don't forget to get your Arch tickets here!

Pete J

4/19/2016

I love history because you can walk in the same places and get a feel for the events that have shaped our country. Standing in the same room as the Dred Scot trial really brings the trial to life.

Jason C

4/19/2016

There is such an unbelievable amount of history here at this Old Courthouse, 11 N 4th St, St. Louis, MO 63102. When in St. Louis make time to come and tour this and read everything to see how important it was in our countries history.

Eddie T

4/19/2016

Cool to go inside and visit if you're walking around the city

Eric O

4/19/2016

If you enjoy history this is worth checking out.

John K

5/20/2016

I have been to the ST. Louis Arch a few times but because of the construction on that site, we had to go to the Old Court House for tickets. It was a wonderful detour. I didn't know all the history of that courthouse and the interior was beautiful. I recommend bringing the kids to see this piece of history.

Tiffany R

5/20/2016

As a fan of John Grisham I love visiting sites like this. This was a random stop to see the arch and I was not expecting everything that was in there! Lots of interesting history. Great artwork and architecture. It can get a bit hot so be sure to come on cooler days.

Yanto N

6/23/2016

Very nice courthouse across the arch. You can park off street for $1.50 / hr or at the garage for $5. Worth to check it out

Tam T

6/23/2016

Lots of history, great architecture. We were there for the George Washington ball, the dancers in period clothing was lots of fun!

Stanley J

10/29/2016

A great place for history buffs interested in the early days of St. Louis. Displays, pictures, and artifacts mske up the exhibits. A large gallery tells the story of the Dred Scott connection to St. Louis, as well as the whole issue of slavery during the time of the middle of the 19th century. Well worth a visit.

Barber W

10/29/2016

This place was beautiful. I loved the atmosphere and it was spaced out perfectly. I highly recommend this place if you want something fun and free!

Susie J

10/29/2016

forgotten STL gem. Nice museum and such history. you can climb 3 levels up and get a real feel for the charm of the building which is one of the oldest downtown. Took in laws there and had a great time. Nice shop too with some great books.

Christian E

10/29/2016

Currently you have to go to the old courthouse to buy tickets for the arch. Assuming that doesn't change it's a great way to do two things at once. Get your arch passes and then stick around and view the amazing architecture as we as the deep, entering history of the city, it's streets. And it's monuments. Fun and educational at the same time.

Ryan C

10/29/2016

Love the old courthouse. Tons of great history, architecture and exhibits. Security is a bit lacking as we were cased by three different people who were intent on mugging us. If you go, just remember to keep an eye out for suspicious characters.

Destiny F

11/30/2016

Great place to see. Information everywhere. They were even holding a meeting while we were there! I love how you can walk around almost the whole court house!

Christine P

12/30/2016

Courthouse was good. The Arch is under restorations. It will be awesome when it gets finished.

Kelly O

2/3/2017

Beautiful architecture in old courthouse. Don't skip over this jem. Courthouse of Dred Scott Decision. Free tourist attraction.

Arch needs to be free again! Boo.

David L

2/3/2017

Excited were nice. Staff was friendly and knowledgeable. 6 yr old enjoyed all the displays and architecture.

Cassandra M

2/3/2017

Stand in the middle of the court house has some really neat acoustics. and gorgeous architecture

Dejan D

2/3/2017

Courthouse is the historically significant but boring... Arch is ok and the museum inside is worth seeing.

Frank J

3/3/2017

Fun place! Great place for the entire family! You can ride to the top and also enjoy a fantastic museum at the bottom of the arch. Lots to do around the arch as well

Marc S

3/3/2017

Here's where I bought tickets to the Arch. Cool looking city hall type building with helpful staff.

melody w

3/3/2017

Such a fun experience riding the tram to the top. Great views bring your camera Be sure to tour the Dred and Harriet Scott exhibit in the old court house. Area around is currently under construction so leave enough time to find parking.

Matt S

3/3/2017

The park grounds of the Arch are under construction but still accessible as of Oct, 2016- don't miss the Old Courthouse nearby.

Alexander R

4/4/2017

History bluffs paradise. So much to see and learn the history that can really amaze an person with the deepest touch. The old court rooms and the top dome can make an photographer stay all day. I personally recommend everybody to go there.

Heather C

4/4/2017

Don't fret about the construction--it will be done soon enough, and then the park will be even better than before! A lot of folks don't realize that the Old Courthouse is part of the park, and that there are some fascinating displays inside. Be sure to allow time to see both that building and the Arch. Once all construction is said and done, the easiest thing to do is park in the Kiener East garage at Broadway and Pine, walk over to the Old Courthouse, then walk down to the Arch.

Tamara R

4/4/2017

Great place to visit alone or with the family. Very helpful and informative staff. Lots of great pictures for the album /scrapbook.

Doug B

4/4/2017

Great job by the National Park Service. Hope they receive all of the funding they need and deserve.

edith a

4/4/2017

They were celebrating George Washington's birthday and the workers were Period dressed, and they demonstrated Period dancing engaging the public to join in the dance. Very informative and fun.

Andrew S

5/5/2017

Very pretty building. Loved the history, but they need to start some restorations if they want to keep it around.

Tarun S

6/6/2017

Great place to see some history. Beautifully built and excellent maintenance work. You can pickup tickets for the Arch and buy some cool gifts.

R S

6/6/2017

What a great place to begin your visit to St Louis! Fantastic help with recommendations, tickets, information and local attractions. Lots of history and a great gift shop, too.

Vinay K

8/7/2017

Yet another place of historic value in St. Louis. The place is a museum and has the visitor's center for the Gateway Arch and thus serves as a starting point to the Gateway Arch, which is right opposite to this monument. The building is now part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. If you go up the stairs, you can see a couple of old circuit courts.

Michael R

8/7/2017

This is a must see place. Absolutely beautiful. Very clean and workers were eager to help and knowledgeable.

Berry C

8/7/2017

Absolutely beautiful historic building that everyone should visit at least once. It is not far from the Gateway Arch or the Old Cathedral so one could make an afternoon of visiting all three.

Zachary L

9/8/2017

At least during Summer 2017, the Old Courthouse served as the gateway to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and the Gateway Arch. Clearly, the National Park Service is hard at work renovating the area for tourists. The construction makes it a bit tight in some places, so that may make some hallways inaccessible, but they're doing their best indoors. I'm sure it will be a five-star establishment when finished. For now, spend some time in the rotunda examining the gorgeous construction and display of American flags. Outside, the grounds and surrounding trails are clean and well-marked. We parked on one of the side streets in the pedestrian mall opposite the Old Courthouse and had plenty of time to explore during our 90-minute stay.

Tyler A

9/8/2017

Much less crowded than the Arch, with still great impact on our country's judicial history. Rarely do we remember our history of the things we got wrong.

©TIFA 2003

Chris J

9/8/2017

Worth the visit if you like history. Woman at the gift shop was fantastic, really loves her job and chatting with customers.

Edwin I

9/8/2017

Beautiful structure, friendly staff. We had a great tour with Nancy, she does the mock Dred Scott trial but not enough folks to do it so we basically got a personal tour, absolutely great! Thanks Nancy

Linda W

10/9/2017

Great place to visit and learn about the building's history, especially Dred Scott decision, and now (maybe since the Jefferson Westward Expansion under the Gateway Arch is closed for renovations?) there are also exhibits about St Louis' early history and it's' role in westward expansion.

Ugur G

11/9/2017

Mysterious place. Definitely deserves to spend time to walk in. Specially if you like Dan Brown type of books you can find so many secret elements as symbols, paintings and architecture itself.

Jin Z

12/9/2017

Do you know that Jefferson National Expansion Memorial actually consists of the Gateway Arch, the Museum of Westward Expansion, and St. Louis' Old Courthouse?

Where you stand is actually St. Louis' Old Courthouse! As one of the oldest standing buildings in St. Louis, it begun in 1839. Here is the place to hold the first two trials of the famous Dred Scott case in 1847 and 1850.

Today, as the landmark, here is the great museum presented the history of the city of St. Louis and restored courtrooms.

Caleb F

12/9/2017

A really gorgeous St. Louis icon. It’s sad the shameful history of the Dred Scott decision that was handed down here. We have come a long way since then but still have so much work to do. It’s important to remember the terrible mistakes of the past to prevent them from happening again. Glad that my city has turned this into a Monument to freedom and a sobering reminder of our unfree past.

Jean-Claude L

12/9/2017

Another great place in St Louis worth a visit and learn about history. O also liked the grounds in front of the building.

Marcin T

12/9/2017

Lots of history here. You can spend as little or as much time here as there's lots to see for those that are interested.

Kathy R

1/10/2018

The Dred Scott exhibit was very good. A constantly running film presented the story very well. I learned a lot.

My family enjoyed a restored court room on the second floor. It is not handicapped accessible.

The old Courthouse is handicapped accessible by a lift from the west side only.

We didn't explore the westward expansion exhibit today but saved it for the next visit.

Robert C

1/10/2018

Skillfully renovated to preserve it's historic beauty. The area offers many photo opportunities such as City Hall, federal courthouse, the Arch, Jefferson Memorial expansion park, the Mississippi Riverfront and Ballpark Village which includes the stadium. In this mix of attractions are a multitude of bars, restaurants and hotels.

Victor W

2/10/2018

Great spot to come in and see some of the exhibits about the history of the expansion in the West. Also you can pick up tickets for the Gateway Arch here as well. They even had a live demonstration and music when I went which was cool. Also offers great views of the Arch.

Aaron B

2/10/2018

A lovely old building downtown not far from the Gateway Arch. It was also the place we picked up our tickets to go up into the arch. The interior of this building is very impressive and worth a quick walk through.

Maria D

5/19/2018

The rangers inside the courthouse were extremely friendly and knowledgable. They showed us a cool trick in the middle of the central hall - ask them so they show you, too! The Dred Scott museum was fascinating. You will learn the true story of Dred Scott's case, which is much different than what the history books at school tell you!

Kelly A

5/19/2018

Rich with beautiful history and Rangers that narrates stories of Dred Scott with exhibits explaining his journey this is a great place to take a family

Edward P

6/19/2018

While only a city/county courthouse , the interior of the dome rivals many State capitals. There is a circle in the floor, laid in 1854, where your voice dramatically increases in volume due to the curved walls and dome. There are visual tricks made by the architect which caused me to believe that the dome is higher than it really is. All in all, this is a hidden jewel.

Krystle P

6/19/2018

This is a cool courthouse. What is really neat is that the gift shop does not charge tax....so you can save money by buying some souvenirs in the courthouse, instead of the arch. Another neat thing is that the courthouse and the arch are right across the street from each other.

Kenneth J

6/19/2018

Excellent museum and great visitor center! Helpful staff and guides available for assistance! A must see for history and culture!

Michael M

6/19/2018

Was a wonderful tour thru this old building. A must see!

Darren Z

7/21/2018

The Old Courthouse is a beautiful and fascinating building and by far the highlight of my visit to St Louis. There are many very informative displays throughout, and the architecture and artwork of the building itself are breathtaking. I was particularly moved by the fact that this is the building where Dred Scott himself stood and plead his case for freedom. It's well worth a visit, and FREE!

Mark Z

7/21/2018

Operated by the National Parks Service in downtown St. Louis, the Old Courthouse is a Federal style building was completed in 1828 and is most noted for being the location of the landmark Dred Scott case in 1846. After years of court battles, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1857 ruled against the Scotts, saying they did not have grounds as citizens to sue. Today the courtrooms and offices house exhibits on life in St. Louis throughout the years, plus of course the Scott case.

Brian L

8/23/2018

A very beautiful and historic building right in the heart of downtown Saint Louis. The museum exhibits here are still being fleshed out but it is still well worth a visit. It is very interesting place to go to and see. The atrium is beautiful!

Randall S

8/23/2018

The Old Courthouse has been turned into a museum about St. Louis. It is free. We were tired, so we didn't stay long. There are steep stairs to the second floor, and no elevator. After visiting so many other sites, I felt the history was starting to repeat. But it would be a great starting point or a helpful place for someone wanting in-depth information.

Brad W

9/23/2018

This is a great place to take people who like history. The staff is always great. Only the down stairs in accessible by wheelchair but they are planning to put in a elevator.

Daniel H

9/23/2018

Really cool! Lots of history here and some interactive events (that we didn't get to participate in because we didn't plan for it) like a public participation trial.

Jacob H

10/23/2018

Beautiful historic building with a few museum areas inside. You can go up three floors into the dome to admire the paintings and architecture.

Eddie H

10/23/2018

Actually, I was surprised to see a monument dedicated to Dred Scott who, in 1846, unsuccessfully sued his master for his freedom. The suit became so infamous until the Scott family was freed by other means in 1856.

Hussein A

11/24/2018

Thank you so much to give us the chance to see the old courthouse .It was so fun thanks

Aaron b

12/24/2018

Incredible history stored inside there. You will be transported to the past and the see what the legal system was like way back when. Amazing documents from Times Gone by. The lawmakers thoughts and attitudes are encapsuled in many of the pictures writings and legal documents. A must see for history and legal Buffs alike

Ben Y

1/25/2019

Beautiful old building with lots of interesting history. The exhibits were informative and well curated.

Amber C

1/25/2019

We spoke to an older gentleman who works there for nearly an hour. He took so much pride in his city and workplace. He shared all kinds of stories that really gave our visit to the courthouse a special twist.

Chelerenee R

1/25/2019

Love to see the history don't care for the outside riffraff but I don't think it was or is their fault it's dangerous downtown

Tonetta C

2/27/2019

A sight to see and experience. Educational and lots of history as you walk through and read about the Scott case and slave trades here in St. Louis. A great place to teach your kids this history that they barely touch on in school.

Fernando L

2/27/2019

So much history in one tiny building. Love it! Would recommend if anyone is interested in a history lesson.

Lennert O

2/27/2019

Beautiful historic building. Make sure you visit the inside as well.

Khrystyna P

3/27/2019

Beautiful building outside and inside as well! Great place to bring your kids for the history lesson, and of course to educate yourself. On the day of our visit the guide was dressed up, so it felt like history actually came alive. Do not overlook it, the Gateway arch right behind the courthouse. Start with a little schooling and finish at the top of the arch! That's what we did, and enjoyed it all the way!

Jeremy G

3/27/2019

The Old St. Louis County Courthouse was built as a combination federal and state courthouse in St. Louis, Missouri. Missouri's tallest habitable building from 1864 to 1894, it is now part of Gateway Arch National Park and operated by the National Park Service for historical exhibits and events

Lupe G

4/27/2019

So I may be a law nerd, but I loved this place! Beautiful interior and a great history lesson about Dred Scott. Go spend 30 minutes here when you go to the Arch. There is a gift shop and restroom inside and you tour at your own pace, but there is a park ranger there to answer questions if you wish. A perfect combination of historically important and architecturally beautiful. The location is convenient too.

Thanael C

4/27/2019

A really interesting place to learn about a court case which changed America. The building is beyond beautiful and the whole experience is gratifying. I would suggest a stop by, especially for history nuts!

Timothy W

4/27/2019

This historic site it the site of the Dread Scott case. The inside is absolutely breathtaking. You can wallk the staircases upward. Once one the second level you will undoubtably notice a slight change in elevation of the floors from front to back. They slant them upward from front to back. The courtrooms, while you can tell have been rearranged from their original setting, are architecturally beautiful. There is still the quiet business like atmosphere associated with a court building. As you stand there you are ushered into a historical past that formed our nation into what it is today. Visit the gift shop there are all kinds of neat and interesting trinkets. MUST SEE.

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