A Preservation Plan for St. Louis
Part II:  Property Types

Period 1 - The Walking City (1820-1869)

Government Buildings

Only one building associated with St. Louis' first generation of municipal buildings remains; many of the government buildings that have been demolished were distinctive.

The First Courthouse

The First Courthouse on the site of the Old Courthouse was designed by George Morton and Joseph Laveille in 1826, and was primarily Federal in design. It was constructed of brick, but the front facade was veneered in stone. A round portico with Ionic columns was flanked by multi-light windows, recessed within blind arches. A fanlight window was set above each. The north and south facades had four bays of twelve-over-twelve windows with rectangular lintels; the center bay of each facade displayed another large fanlight at the second story. The First Courthouse was retained as the east wing of the new courthouse but demolished in a later expansion.

U.S. Custom House and Post Office

The other important government building from the Walking City period was the United States Custom House and Post Office, designed by George I. Barnett under the supervision of A. B. Young in 1852. (See Notable Architects in Part I: Architecture). The building, in the Greek Revival style, is similar to custom houses Young designed for the Federal government throughout the United States. The front facade of the building had a tall first story of rusticated stone; on the front facade, a temple front of the Corinthian order projected from the center five bays.

The Old Courthouse

The Old Courthouse is the only government building that from St. Louis Walking Period that is standing today. Designed by Henry Singleton as a Greek Revival building with a cruciform plan and center cupola, the Courthouse was remodeled by Robert S. Mitchell in the 1850's. Mitchell removed the wing containing the First Capital, and constructed additions to the north and south. In 1860-64, William Rumbold designed the current cast iron dome, the first of its kind in the world. The building has a temple front on both the east and west wings, with a geometric frieze beneath the cornice. The temple fronts are reproduced on the north and south wings with pilasters and pediments. The building is built of brick and stone, and painted white.

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