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Renovations have begun at historic Old Courthouse

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Inside the Courthouse for ceremony

Renovations to the Old Courthouse have begun!

This is only the second significant renovation to the Old Courthouse since it was built between 1839 and 1862. The renovations are the final component of the $380 million CityArchRiver project, which has resulted in the revitalization of the Gateway Arch park grounds, Arch Visitor Center, Museum at the Gateway Arch, St. Louis Riverfront, Luther Ely Smith Square and Kiener Plaza. This project is jointly funded by the National Park Service and Gateway Arch Park Foundation.

The renovations will include the installation of an elevator, rendering the building's second floor accessible for the first time in its history, in conjunction with ramps that were previously installed at both entrances during phase one of the CityArchRiver project. 

Critical building updates, which will help revitalize and maintain the building's integrity, will include a new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system; a new fire suppression system; and general restoration and improvements.

The renovations will also include four all-new galleries featuring state-of-the-art exhibits that will have an expanded focus on the legacy of Dred and Harriet Scott, freedom suits, African American life in St. Louis, and the architectural features of the Old Courthouse.

St. Louis-based companies Tarlton Construction and Trivers are leading the project’s construction and architecture, respectively. U.K.-based Haley Sharpe Design, the company who designed the state-of-the-art exhibits in the new Museum at the Gateway Arch, is leading the exhibit designs, together with the National Park Service and with regular input from the Universal Design Group.

Jeremy Sweat, Lynne Jackson, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, Ryan McClure
Sumner Performing Arts Choir

Groundbreaking a New Vision

On January 31, more than 100 community members and civic leaders joined us and the National Park Service for a groundbreaking ceremony to commence the historic renovation.

Lynne Jackson, president & founder of the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation and great, great granddaughter of Harriet and Dred Scott joined speakers to celebrate the historic occasion, saying "We’re getting to share a deeper part of [Dred and Harriet Scott’s] story… you see a truer story being told. When people walk into this Courthouse—like I did as a teenager—they won’t just see their small picture somewhere on a wall upstairs. Over the years, their story has come to light in a much more significant way, and I appreciate that."

City of St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones underscored the importance of confronting our nation’s problematic past: "As we break ground on this important project, on the eve of Black History Month, let us remember both what this building represents, and how these renovations will make sure the Old Courthouse remains a destination for education and learning for generations to come."

Foundation executive director Ryan McClure and Superintendent Jeremy Sweat of Gateway Arch National Park also gave remarks.

The program closed with a spoken word and choral performance by Sumner Performing Arts group.