Old Courthouse
Old Courthouse
4.5
Historic SitesPoints of Interest & LandmarksGovernment Buildings
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Monday
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Tuesday
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Wednesday
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Thursday
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Friday
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Saturday
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Sunday
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
About
Walk the halls where ordinary Americans made civil rights history. Built in 1839, the Old Courthouse is a prime example of mid-19th century federal architecture. But it is two landmark cases that secure its place in history. Beginning in 1847, the enslaved Dred Scott twice sued for his and his wife Harriet’s freedom. But, the U.S. Supreme Court decided against them, ruling that African-Americans were not citizens and had no right to sue. In 1873, St. Louis suffragette Virginia Minor and her husband filed a civil suit arguing for women’s right to vote. Although their suit was denied, they brought great attention to the fight for voting rights for all U.S. citizens.
Duration: 1-2 hours
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Neighborhood: Downtown
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Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles1,058 reviews
Excellent
553
Very good
407
Average
84
Poor
10
Terrible
4

cathrynr2014
Brooklyn Park, MN118 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020
This is the courthouse where the Dred Scott trial was heard. The courtroom where the trial took place no longer exists, but the courtroom directly above the original still exists. The courtroom where Dred Scott finally won his freedom is also there. The courthouse tells the story of the events leading up to the trial, the trial and finally his emancipation. Beautiful old building.
Written February 24, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Grover R
Pensacola, FL21,733 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2022
Perfectly framed by the Arch is the old Nineteenth Century Courthouse that looks like a state Capitol. For all its architectural splendor, it is most famous for housing the Dredd Scott case which move the country towards Civil War. Currently the courthouse is closed for interior renovations. However, it in no way takes away from the beautiful exterior that can still be enjoyed with a visit. If you are at the Arch, make sure you take in this beautiful and historic building.
Written July 6, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

TravelingSoccerLoon
Saint Paul, MN4,977 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2023 • Friends
Historically important building with beautiful architecture. Constructed between 1839 and 1862. One of the most famous trials to take place here was the original Dred Scott case during which the enslaved Dred Scott and his wife Harriet sued and won their freedom only for the decision to be eventually overturned by the US Supreme Court that declared that slaves are property and hold no rights to sue. This decision flamed the fires that brought on the Civil War. Easy to visit as it is located near the Gateway Arch and is part of the Gateway Arch National Park. It is easy to photograph from the grounds near the Arch. However, the Old Courthouse can only be experienced from the outside at this time as it undergoes renovations inside.
Written March 6, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Michael K
Smyrna, GA550 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2019
There's a lot of really interesting stuff in this old courthouse, but its focus is on the old Dred Scott case from the 19th century. There have been renovations since that terrible case, but the building itself hasn't changed that much. This is well worth a couple hours for anyone with a love of history and/or legal background.
Written March 15, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Have Camera, Will Travel
South Bend, IN3,573 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2020
Unfortunately, as with many things in 2020, we could not go inside, but we wandered around the outside and I took a ton of pictures. The building is in great shape and it takes great photos. There are information boards around the building and some statues and the like. It's a good partner to the Arch.
Written August 25, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mark Barnes
Indianapolis, IN572 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2020 • Family
You should stop here on your visit to st louis. Unfortunately you can't go inside right now. There is some really neat history inside. Also it is a good pic to get the courthouse inside the arch.
Written October 14, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

FLGIRL
The Villages, FL553 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2022
This is apart of the Gateway Arch, National Park, but is currently under renovation. It does make for a beautiful picture when standing in Kiener Plaza Park. Also this is a great place to start walking from then up Chestnut to 14th street and back down Market street to see all the different buildings downtown. The architecture of the different buildings is so worth the walk.
Written May 11, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

CharlieinTexas
Austin, TX5,112 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2021 • Couples
At first I thought this was some type of state house, if it is easily accessible on a visit to the arch or ballpark. Well-maintained building, that is a throwback to architecture long ago. Quite refreshing compared to modern office building-like the courthouses being built in the past 39 years or so
Written June 2, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Irina
United States13,232 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2022
The Old Courthouse is considered to be one of the oldest historic buildings in downtown St. Louis.

The building of the Old Courthouse had gone through initial design and construction (circa 1816), redesigning and expansion (1839), had a new cast iron dome replacing the cupola (1861-1864), became a part of the Gateway Arch National Park (1940), and had several subsequent repairs and renovations during the following decades.

The historic significance of the Old Courthouse in St. Louis originates from a very memorable historic process: in 1846 an American named Dred Scott, who was born into slavery in Virginia, sued for his freedom, for his rights as a human being, in effect raising the underlying questions of what defines humanity with respect to race, and what constitutes natural American citizenship. The Old Courthouse in St. Louis became the scene of trials, the historic case of Dred Scott reached the Missouri Supreme Court and the US Supreme Court, thus laying the grounds for the future civil rights movement. The American Civil War (1861-1865) eventually ended in the abolition of slavery in 1865.

During the time of our visit the Old Courthouse was closed to public, and from what I read now, it is still -- temporarily -- closed.
Written December 20, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Jennifer H
San Diego, CA3,191 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2019
The Old Courthouse is definitely worth a walk through when visiting the Arch in St. Louis. The building is beautifully maintained and the Park Rangers inside are very helpful providing a great deal of history about the events that happened in this building.

If nothing else, just to stand where the Dred Scott case was heard is something special. The rotunda inside is breathtaking and be sure to see the the Dred Scott statue outside. You won't need a great deal of time to see this - it was a perfect walk through on our way to the arch.
Written November 28, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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