The only surviving public buildings downtown from the period preceding the Civil War are the Old Cathedral and the Old Courthouse. The site for the courthouse was designated by J.B.C. Lucas in his addition to St. Louis in 1816. The earliest legal proceedings here were conducted in a wooden structure in the old town, dating back to Colonial times. A brick courthouse was completed on the present site in 1828, occupying the space now covered by the east wing of the present Old Courthouse. The brick building was integrated into the newer structure after construction began in 1839. It was demolished to make way for the east wing in 1851.
The present Old Courthouse was constructed by stages from 1839 to 1862, when the dome was finally completed. One of its courtrooms was the scene of the first decision in the well known Dred Scott Case, which defined the legal issues leading to the Civil War.
Image - The Old Courthouse