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“Fantastic History”
Review of Old Courthouse

Old Courthouse
Ranked #25 of 280 things to do in Saint Louis
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: 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.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Bathroom facilities, Activities for young children
Reviewed January 30, 2013

The Old Courthouse situated downtown, just blocks from the City Garden, is a genuine delight for American history buffs. The restored courthouse shows some of the splendor of the 1800's along with the darker side of slavery in America.
This is the site of the famous Dred Scott trial which I learned about as a kid in school. Sadly, neither of my children had been taught about this brave man and his trials as both a slave and "freed man". To walk the same floors that he walked gave me a sense of awe as well as connection to Dred and his journey in life.
Definitely worth the stop! There is no admission, a free short film talks about the history of the courthouse and there is a nice and reasonably priced souvenir store inside.

2  Thank cindy a
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"dred scott"
in 149 reviews
"beautiful building"
in 74 reviews
"arch tickets"
in 39 reviews
"supreme court"
in 20 reviews
"actual courtroom"
in 10 reviews
"court room"
in 12 reviews
"lots of history"
in 28 reviews
"great history"
in 30 reviews
"the national park service"
in 21 reviews
"short film"
in 11 reviews
"gift shop"
in 48 reviews
"piece of history"
in 15 reviews
"civil war"
in 35 reviews
"buy tickets"
in 26 reviews
"american history"
in 15 reviews
"louis history"
in 19 reviews
"free attraction"
in 12 reviews
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Reviewed January 27, 2013

Great place! Beautiful and educational. Stand at the place that lit the fuse of the civil war. Outstanding rotunda area, two period courthouses restored to their former glory. Free...

Thank deltafox5674
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 25, 2013

The Old Courthouse in Saint Louis is just a few steps from the Museum of Westward Expansion and well worth a couple of hours. The building has been restored and is in great shape. It was the site of two historic court cases. The first is the famous or infamous Dred Scott case which was a major contributing factor to the Civil War. The rangers have done a great job in presenting a number of posters highlighting the case. That should not be missed. There's a ten minute film on the trial.
However, the rangers has a little exhibit on the Minor versus Happersett which involved the right to vote for women. This deserves a little more space.
There is also four rooms highlighting the history of St Louis. These are very interesting.

1  Thank Myles C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 11, 2013

We appreciated going into the old court house. We thought it was beautiful. We learned a lot in watching the short film about Dred Scott and the exhibits. Not much for kids to do. There is a gift shop. Nice view of the arch.

1  Thank mrjonesii
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed December 27, 2012

Tip: It opens at 8 am, before the Arch. So you could take a look before you go to the Arch - if you are a morning person :)

Pros: facts about slavery, beautiful old building, a piece of History

I highly recommend a visit. I could read some facts about this courthouse relevance during the slavery period. Namely about the Dred Scott Case. It's truly impressive.

Thank HelenaGuerra
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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