Vacant Courthouse Building in Saint Louis MO

Municipal Courts Building, St. Louis Missouri
Date added: March 26, 2024 Categories: Missouri Courthouse Beaux-Arts Taylor, Isaac Stockton
West (left) and rear, south (right)-facing elevations (2012)

The Municipal Courts Building is located at 1320 Market Street in St. Louis Missouri. Arguably a masterpiece, the building was designed by prominent architect Isaac Stockton Taylor in 1909 and completed in 1911-12. Built to replace the original courts building but meant to house a number of other civic agencies and offices, the building was part of a great city plan to develop a center of public buildings and parks just west of the downtown core in conjunction with the City Beautiful Movement and a need for long-range planning for St. Louis.

In 1904, St. Louis hosted the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition (St. Louis World's Fair) and nearly 20 million visitors from around the world witnessed not only the best of what Missouri's largest city had to offer but also the introduction, to some visitors and locals alike, of technological innovations such as electricity and automobiles. After such a successful fair the city's industry and influence continued to evolve, and beautification of the city became a high priority.

Construction of a new Municipal Courts Building was high on the list of desired projects. The existing Municipal Courts (AKA Four Courts) Building at 12th and Clark Streets, designed by Thomas Walsh in the Second Empire style in 1870, seemed out of fashion after the visual delights of the World's Fair buildings. Also, existing brick buildings were deteriorating and conditions were crowded around City Hall. It was felt that new public buildings should be constructed within a park-like setting and obsolete buildings should be removed altogether to enhance the beauty of the city of St. Louis.

Efforts to achieve these high expectations were begun during the first decade of the 20th Century.

A new city plan, adopted in 1907, contained a report by the newly-appointed Public Buildings Commission on the need for a "public buildings group" in St. Louis: "St. Louis," the plan stated, "at this time, has an opportunity which seldom comes to a large city to carry out a magnificent scheme for the grouping of her public buildings, and to establish for herself an architectural center which for all time will place her among the first of cities famed for the dignity and grandeur of her municipal buildings group."

Previously, city voters had approved a $2,000,000 expenditure for the construction of a health department, police courts, and a new courthouse (all of which would later occupy the Municipal Building) in addition to a new jail. The belief was that the placement of these buildings, along with a new library building adjacent to the site would "furnish a nucleus for an admirable group center in the heart of the future business district." The Commission continued:

The advantages to be derived from a grouping of public and quasi-public buildings are several: - First, it furnishes an opportunity for harmonious treatment and architectural effects which can be secured only by grouping the buildings about a common court or square. Each building in the group contributes its share to the dignity, beauty and attractiveness of every other. Unrelated buildings, however imposing they may be in themselves, lose much of their effectiveness by standing alone. Second, the grouping of public buildings will greatly facilitate public business, which means economy to the entire people. Third, they will serve as a splendid example of the advantages to be gained by the proper arrangements of buildings about an open park space, which will have its influence on all subsequent private as well as public building operations in the city.

The mayor had appointed the Public Buildings Commission earlier in 1904. Headed by three prominent local architects; William Eames, Albert Groves and John Mauran; their first obligation was to design a new municipal courthouse near the City Hall and a civic center in the area west of Twelfth Street, between Clark Street and Washington Avenue. Some key buildings were to be retained while several others were demolished (or planned for demolition) to create a block-wide landscaped parkway running between City Hall and a new courthouse, one block to the west.

Two estimates were provided: Plan No. 1 costing $2,285,566 and Plan No. 2 costing $2,671,308 (after deducting the values of the old City Hall and Four Courts buildings). The Commission suggested that a new building the size of the new City Hall should be erected symmetrically from the latter; such building should house the courts (comprising the total number in use between the Four Courts and the old Court House), both the Police and Fire Department Headquarters, a Dispensary, and detention rooms with a separate building for a Jail adjacent. Estimated for $2,225,000 for the main building (and $500,000 for the Jail), the Commission stated that Plans No. 1 and No. 2 would cost $2,970,350 and $2,725,000, respectively. The preference of the Commission was for Plan No. 2 because "it not only gives a larger amount of property for future development, it gives a promise of that parkway projected in the report, completing the vista from the new Public Library to the municipal group by providing at once a very large proportion of this proposed open space in the form of a veritable City Hall Park."

The city of St. Louis acquired all of the property west of the new City Hall in September 1908 for a total of $975,000 and demolition of the block's existing buildings began soon afterward.

Architect Isaac Taylor completed the Beaux-Arts style building elevations and floor plans for a new Municipal Building in February of 1909. Soon thereafter the Realty Record and Builder announced "Municipal Building Plans," with a detailed description as follows:

The plans for the Municipal Courts building, to be erected west of the new City Hall, at a cost of $2,000,000 have been completed, as have the condemnation proceedings and the site at a cost of $975,354.98 is in the possession of the city. Wrecking of the old buildings will begin at once and foundation work is next in order. The new building will cost about $2,000,000 to come from the remaining $1,000,000 of the bond issue and the sale of the old City Hall and Four Courts sites.

The building as designed by Architect Isaac S. Taylor will face 315 feet on Fourteenth Street and 224 feet on Market Street. It will be separated from the City Hall by a small park. The building will be about the same height as the City Hall...

... The interior arrangement of the main building will be as follows: Basement-two court records rooms, one storeroom for the Board of Election Commissioners and one for the Health Department. Two or three other rooms are unassigned. Tunnels will connect the basement with the Jail, the City Hall and the lighting plant.

Ground Floor-Juvenile Court in the center of the south end, with ten rooms for witnesses, judges, prisoners, employees and probationary officer, all enclosed by a corridor. The southeast corner and the rooms along the east side will be used by the city chemist. In the southwest corner and west side will be the chief dispensary physician and the dispensary. The health commissioner will get the northeast corner, with a suite including the Board of Health assembly room, and in the northwest corner will be the assistant health commissioner's offices and the sanitary division. The center will be taken up by ambulance stands and airshafts. Second Floor-The center at the south end, directly over the Juvenille Court, will be occupied by the First District Police Court, and arranged in a square in the center of the building will be four other courts each surrounded on the outside by offices for judges, officers, witnesses, etc. The sheriff and his staff will occupy the southeast corner, and the city marshal the southwest corner. The prosecuting attorney and his staff will be located in the northwest corner. The suite of offices in the northeast corner is unassigned.

Third Floor-Five high ceilings from the first-floor courtrooms will cut out most of the third floor, but the outer walls will be lined by a score or more of jury and ante-rooms. The chief of police and his staff and the chief of detectives and his staff will be located in the northwest and northeast corners, respectively. A room for newspaper representatives will be located directly over the Market Street entrance, between the chiefs of police and detectives. The Board of Election Commissioners will have its main offices in the southwest corner. The southeast corner is unassigned. Fourth Floor-The center at the south directly over the Police Court will be occupied by the circuit clerk, flanked on the east by the circuit attorney and on the west by additional offices for the Board of Election Commissioners. Four more court rooms will fill up the center of the fourth floor, and another string of offices for judges, assistants, witnesses, etc. will line either side wall. The Police Department will have additional quarters in the northeast corner, including the assembly room for the Police Board directly over the press room. The northwest corner is unassigned.

Fifth Floor-The skylights of the four upper courtrooms protrude through the fifth floor. The south end is arranged for the grand jury, with rooms for the assistant circuit attorney. The feature of the grand jury room will be a leakproof arrangement planned by Circuit Attorney Sager. There will be no other offices on that floor, but the north corners will each contain large storage rooms.

The tower will extend six stories above the main building. Each of the six tower rooms will have a floor area of 25 x 26 feet. The tower will be 168 feet high. (Additional sources say 185 feet 9 inches high and 30 foot square). The building will have six elevators, shafts of which are to be double..."

Another piece of the municipal buildings group puzzle; a bookend to the Municipal Courts Building facing the future plaza; was Cass Gilbert's Central Library building. The same publication and page announced that the construction contract was awarded to the John Pierce Company of New York. The Library was completed in 1912. News of the plans to erect the Municipal Courts Building was also published in the 1909 edition of the Plumber's Trade Journal, which included specifications on the plumbing:

"...The plumbing, which will be one of the main features of the building, was designed under the supervision of Edward Quinn, the Supervisor of Plumbing of the city of St. Louis, and only St. Louis goods will be used in the installation; that is to say that St. Louis capital is paying for the erection of this building with its plumbing and there is no reason why St. Louis manufacturers should not supply the material. Good reasoning.

Below will be found a list of plumbing fixtures in the Courts Building:

Courts Building-water closets, 130; urinals, 46; lavatories, 77; pedal cock lavatories, 8; slop sinks, 23; drip-board sinks, 3; ice water fountains, 6; shower baths, 1; total, 291."

1909 Push for Construction

An effort to show the citizens of St. Louis physical progress on the future site of the Municipal Courts Building was further affected when on May 13th, 1909 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch touted "New Board Will Rush Plans for City Buildings - Work Delayed by Old Regime is to be Begun Despite Shortage - DEBRIS STILL ON SITE - Contract Penalizes Wrecker $50 a Day for the Last Five Months." As the story explained:

Plans for the municipal buildings that are to occupy the square between Market Street, Clark Avenue, Thirteenth Street and Fourteenth Street-now an eyesore because the debris that litters it-will be submitted to the Board of Public Improvements for its approval within the next two weeks.

In fact, the contract to demolish the structures acquired for the site of the new buildings, a contract that was signed in September of 1908, stated that the contractor, Joseph O'Shea was to have all buildings demolished and the site cleared by December 15th, 1908. Failing to do so resulted in a daily fine of $50; O'Shea, in May of 1909, had not completed demolition of several buildings facing Market Street and was facing a heavy fine in addition to potentially losing a $5,000 deposit. A lack of a prepared site coupled with a shortage of funding for the buildings had little impact on a decision of certain members of the Board who were still in favor of beginning the construction. The Board's enthusiasm came from being convinced that the sale of the old City Hall (built 1871) at Eleventh and Market Streets and the Four Courts building (1873) at Twelfth Street and Clark Avenue (both since demolished) would fill the gap of the shortage.

Four days later on May 17th, 1909 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch announced "New Municipal Building to be Started Soon." It was reported that the work was to begin within 60 days and by the first week of October the cornerstone would be laid as one of the features of the centennial celebration. However, the building's original design would be forever altered.

Because cost projections of the construction as designed exceeded the amount allocated, the elimination of the proposed six-story tower was proposed. On May 17th, 1909, the Post-Dispatch reported that Architect Taylor was averse to the elimination of the tower which he felt was "essential to the symmetry of the buildings."

On May 23rd, 1909, a Post-Dispatch article featured an image of the Municipal Building with the proposed tower along with the headline "Taylor Decries Plan to Build Without Tower - Architect Declares Elimination of Feature Will Mar City Structures." The Board of Public Improvements was divided over the question of erecting the tower. Three commissioners "advocated the expenditure in the interest both of utility and embellishment" while the other three "opposed the inclusion of the tower in the plans" and "held that the Board ought to economize as much as possible, especially in the view of the fact that the cost of the building, even without the tower, would exceed by $500,000 the sum available." After Mayor Kreismann was asked to consult, the Board of Public Improvements finally made the executive decision to exclude the tower (thus reducing costs to a final sum of approximately $1,500,000 to secure the site and construct the structure). It was expected that $70,000 would be saved on the construction. While the Board did not approve the tower, it did authorize foundations and steel framework for a future tower if monies became available. Ordinances authorizing contracts were to be submitted to the Municipal Assembly before the beginning of June 1909. In his defense, Taylor was quoted as saying:

I have no disposition to criticize the city officials for deciding to eliminate the tower...I have tried to be economical with the city's money in making the plans for the building, but I think it will be a great mistake to leave off the tower to save $70,000 on a building that will cost more than a million. There is a tower on the City Hall and there ought to be one on the new building to maintain the symmetry of the group. A tower of some kind is absolutely necessary on a low building covering nearly two blocks.

A great searchlight might be placed on top of the tower to be used when the city is filled with visitors, as it will be during the Centennial Celebration next fall...The tower of the building would be a constant advertisement for the city and it is a pity to sacrifice it to save $70,000.

I am sure if the building is constructed according to my original plans it will be the most beautiful structure of its kind in the West. Without the tower it will look squatty, and its beauty forever marred.

It will hardly be in keeping with the progress of St. Louis to eliminate one of the principal architectural features of a great municipal building when its cost, in comparison with the cost of the entire structure is not significant."

Although a formal decision had been made by the Board against the erection of the tower, word began to spread in early August of 1909 that construction of the tower was still possible. The Post-Dispatch exclaimed "Low Bids Add High Tower to City Building" and "Municipality Can Afford Crowning Feature of New Court's Structure." The source continued "unexpectedly low bids by contractors for the Municipal Courts building will make possible the erection of the tower of the building, which the Board of Public Improvements had already decided was impossible because of lack of money." In fact, the winning $596,771.50 bid of the C. L. Gray Construction Company was almost $200,000 less than the original estimate of the building's cost.

Ultimately, a hand-written building permit dated August 1909 was issued to the City of St. Louis to construct the Municipal Courts Building for a cost of $997,000, noting that the building was to be "ready for occupancy" in December 1911.

In 1909, a publication titled "Historical and Interesting Places of Saint Louis" reported that "Work is in progress on the site of a group of municipal buildings, to be erected across the street from the City Hall, which property will possibly mean the expenditure of about $2,000,000." In fact, earlier on August 21st, 1909, Mayor Kreismann broke the first ground for the building followed by Board of Public Improvement President Maxime Reber and City Comptroller B. J. Taussig; the cornerstone was to be laid during Centennial Week in October.

Winter 1910-1911

By December of 1910, the Municipal Courts Building was nearing completion. Reporting on December 18th, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch exclaimed that "the fame of the structure, which Isaac S. Taylor, director of works at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, designed as his masterpiece, has traveled to Canada. The government of Montreal has asked permission of the Board of Public Improvements to use the plans of the St. Louis edifice as models for a proposed courthouse in the Canadian City." Describing the structure, Charles M. Talbert of the Engineer's Club of St. Louis stated, "The construction of the building symbolizes its purpose to serve as a temple of justice. Its style is massive, but not too stern; it has solidity, softened by grace of lines; it displays no frivolous embellishments but dignity and impressiveness. I consider it the most perfectly designed structure of its kind ever built."

Based on a rigorous construction timeframe, contractors are expected to complete the building's roofing system before the start of severe winter weather. They hoped that the interior work could begin in early spring of 1911. Accordingly, the contract specified that the building be complete by February 26th, 1912. Reports concluded that the cost of the site was $1,025,000 and with the estimated cost of the building at $897,000 plus the architect's fees, brought the total estimate to $2,000,000.

Meanwhile, during the construction of the Municipal Courts Building, a group of nationally recognized sanitation experts representing the nation's larger cities had toured a city slum centered upon Eighth and Ninth, Carr and Biddle Streets in St. Louis. Upon conclusion, the group declared that the "St. Louis Ghetto is the plague spot of America in point of filth." Criticizing the St. Louis Board of Health for the conditions, one expert exclaimed, "this city needs a municipal cleaning." Improvements in the health and sanitation divisions of the city were planned within the new building to address these very issues. With a new health department, sanitary division, offices for the health commissioner and assistant, a Board of Health assembly room, and additional offices, solutions were implemented to improve the conditions of St. Louis' troubled neighborhoods.

Isaac Taylor: Master Architect

Architect Isaac Stockton Taylor was born in Nashville, Tennessee around 1851. At an early age he showed an interest in architectural drawing and the arts. Upon being educated at St. Louis University, and graduating with honors in 1868, Taylor, with the assistance of family friend Henry Shaw, entered into an apprenticeship for prominent architect George I. Barnett. After six years of intensive study with Barnett, the two entered into an architectural partnership as Barnett & Taylor. Of note of their early works was the Southern Hotel in St. Louis, touted as the first fire-proof hotel built in the city. By 1879, Taylor had begun his own firm and with "constantly increasing prestige and prominence" had become "widely known as one of the most accomplished architects in the United States, noted alike for his attainments, his high character and his devotion to his calling." Another source said of Taylor: "In 1879 Mr. Taylor started in business for himself and is now regarded as one of the best architects in America west of the Mississippi Valley...this is not the individual opinion of any one man, but it is the verdict of the immense number of capitalists, manufacturers and merchants who have placed their interests in his keeping." By 1884, Taylor, along with just four other architects, was admitted to the American Institute of Architects.

In St. Louis, Isaac Taylor's name quickly became associated with many of the most important buildings constructed during the last part of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th century. Taylor had "attained such eminence in his profession that he was made director of works for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition when it was planned to hold a World's Fair in this city and his work set a new standard of beauty in the way of exposition building." By 1901, Taylor was appointed architect-in-chief for the St. Louis World's Fair. Accordingly, his assistant Oscar Enders was responsible for taking over the private practice to allow Taylor to work freely on the Fair buildings. Because of his work on the 1904 World's Fair, Saint Louis University awarded Taylor its first honorary master's degree in architecture.

Architectural Historian David J. Simmons has documented over 215 architectural projects associated with Isaac Taylor. Of this extensive body of work, two civic buildings, including the Municipal Courts Building and the Jefferson Memorial Building (now Missouri Historical Society) in Forest Park were completed between 1910 and 1912.

The 1921 Centennial History of Missouri spoke of Taylor as "an architect of eminent ability in his profession, (who) journeyed through life with powers constantly increasing through the exercise of activity until he was classed with those whose names are synonymous with the best in the architectural adornment not only of St. Louis but of the entire Mississippi Valley." A member of the American Institute of Architects, Taylor was also associated with the Business Men's League of St. Louis, the Mercantile, and St. Louis Clubs, and several other organizations. A lifelong friend of Taylor, attorney R. M. Nichols, said of him (on the occasion of his presentation of a bust of Taylor to the Missouri Historical Society):

It is not obvious to human intelligence what most of us were born for, nor why almost anyone might just as well not have been born. Occasionally, however, it is plain that a man is sent into the world with a particular work to perform. If a man is actually, though not always, conscious of his mission, his contemporaries as a rule are equally blind to his merits, and it then remains for after generations to discover that a man has lived and died for whom was set one particular task, and who has attempted and achieved it, and whose achievements have changed the whole course of procedure of that particular subject, and for ages thereafter remain the authoritative sources of all knowledge upon that subject... Darwin and Tyndall the brightest luminaries of natural science, and so Isaac S. Taylor is the authoritative source of modern architectural knowledge in St. Louis, Chicago, and cities in Texas and Arkansas, in the planning and construction of large hotels and business buildings...

...Isaac S. Taylor has standing to the credit of his memory those enduring monuments of architectural beauty in the city of St. Louis, such as the Liggett & Meyers tobacco factory, the largest in the world, the old Southern Hotel, now past its usefulness but one of the first buildings planned and built by him, at the beginning of his career; the Rialto, Columbia, Mercantile Club, Globe-Democrat, Republic, Mercantile Trust, Bank of Commerce, Rice Stix Dry Goods Company buildings, Planters hotel, Jefferson Hotel and Municipal Courts buildings, as well as hotels in Chicago, Eureka Springs, Hot Springs, Dallas, and many others.

He was the architect of this beautiful Jefferson Memorial, built to commemorate the principals of Thomas Jefferson; he was director of works for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, which built a perfect wilderness of beautiful buildings near the spot of this Jefferson Memorial.

The Municipal Courts Building is not only one of Isaac Taylor's great works; it is also an excellent example of a Beaux-Arts-style building. An elaborate, eclectic design, steeped in classical detail, the Municipal Courts Building reflects the language of the period via its symmetrical design accented with a massive, centralized entry porch flanked by columns, spans of pilasters and rows of ornamental window panels, elaborated cornice lines, and a roof balustrade. Placed on a site meant to be a part of a formal design plan, the building was built to epitomize the St. Louis City Beautiful Movement at the turn of the century.

Beaux-Arts: Origins and Characteristics

The Beaux-Arts style had been in use for affluent American domestic buildings as early as 1885. Advocated by American architects who studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in France, the style competed alongside other preferred architectural traditions in the United States. But the often extravagant identifying features including symmetrical exterior surfaces with decorative garlands or other ornament, pilasters and columns set over walls of masonry, foundations or first stories with rusticated stone and exaggerated joints addressed, more effectively, the tastes and values of the wealthy industrial barons exhibiting their fortunes via ornate and expensive homes. The style was quickly adapted to museums, schools, clubhouses, as well as other public and city-owned buildings. Related also to the Beaux-Arts was a concern for formal planning of space between buildings-a formal style and design concept which was the impetus of the City Beautiful Movement.

Beaux-Arts in St. Louis

St. Louis received its share of Beaux Arts buildings, many of them the work of prominent American architects. However, it was the work for the municipal clientele in consideration of city showcasing and planning, featuring public spaces and grand buildings, that these relatively new ideals and images brought to light by the City Beautiful Movement could be fully executed.

This period in St. Louis building saw the decline of the key Victorian styles in architecture which were still quite popular just a decade earlier. Beaux-Arts classicism, a vision of the City Beautiful Movement, and first witnessed in the United States at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition (Chicago World's Fair) was reinforced in St. Louis at its World's Fair in 1904. Isaac Taylor, architect-in-chief of the St. Louis Fair, became immersed in this style during his tenure over the three years of design and construction on the fairgrounds. Post-construction of the Fair buildings, Taylor designed several local residential, commercial, and other buildings. By 1909, Taylor began to draw up a set of plans for the Municipal Courts building.

In "A Preservation Plan for St. Louis" (1995), the Beaux-Arts style is described as a design that was often used for government buildings. However, before the construction of St. Louis' new Municipal Courts Building, the Lammert and Lesser/Goldman Buildings were completed as grand business and office buildings in 1897 and 1903, respectively. Designed by the prominent firm of Eames and Young, both buildings featured elaborate ornamentation. While the former building was a vertical composition with a limestone front divided into three sections with a two-story rusticated base and recessed central entrance set within a massive arch, the later example was a horizontal composition of red brick and terra cotta with multiple storefronts and bands of ornamentation.

Perhaps the epitome of Beaux-Arts in St. Louis, the Municipal Courts Building was constructed in a style that "provided a symbolism greatly desired by governments of the period: white stone buildings of immense scale with elaborate classical detailing (which) represented the city as dignified, solid, authoritative and responsive."

Art, architecture, and urban design critic George McCue described the Municipal Courts Building as "an august Beaux Arts composition in which differing window rhythms and a row of engaged columns are used to define a base, midsection, and attic story."

Municipal Courts Building Beyond 1940

Decades later, the "missing" Municipal Courts Building tower apparently was still lamented by some. On December 3rd, 1948, the St. Louis Globe-Democrat published a letter to the editor about this very thing from Henri Rush, chief engineer of the City Building Department. In his letter (which the Globe labeled "Stinted City Buildings"), Rush declared that "One of the finest buildings facing City Hall Plaza would undoubtedly be the Municipal Courts Building, if the grand spire had been placed in the center of the building as conceived by the architect...the heavy concrete supports are there to see for anyone interested enough. When you inspect the attic, you just marvel at the enormous concrete buttresses which cost many thousands to the city taxpayer, and are doomed to oblivion." The tops of these concrete monoliths are visible today within the attic story.

The building continued to serve its original purpose until 2000 when the federal courts moved to the new Thomas Eagleton Federal Courthouse. This allowed the municipal courts and other offices to move two blocks east at Tucker and Market. Also in that year demolition of the city jail behind the building began to provide additional city parking.

In 2009, hope for a $40 million Municipal Courts Building makeover was announced in the St. Louis Business Journal. Heisman Properties of California was reportedly going to purchase the property but, unfortunately, the deal fell through.

Despite the vacancy of the Municipal Courts Building, the building remains a great expression of Beaux-Arts Classicism in St. Louis. It also remains symbolic of St. Louis during its turn-of-the-century prime-a period which saw the beginnings of good city planning centered around public building groups and civic centers.

Building Description

The Municipal Courts Building, located at 1320 Market Street in St. Louis, Missouri, is a four-story (and attic) white Bedford limestone Beaux-Arts style building. Raised above a rusticated stone basement, this massive, symmetrical structure was designed by prominent architect Isaac Taylor and completed in 1911. Reached by an extensive series of stone steps, the primary entrance is recessed under a grand arch resting on colossal stone Doric-style columns. It is surmounted by a stone lion-headed keystone and the inscription "JUSTITIA.". A two-story Doric peristyle surrounds the front block of the building while pilasters continue around the structure. The fourth-story contains triple windows under a heavy-dentilled cornice with a balustrade above. Epitomizing the Beaux-Arts style, the building features elaborate cartouches, swag carvings, relief panels, ornamented keystones and shields, an accentuated cornice, a roof-line balustrade, pilasters, and a rusticated first floor. Exterior alterations include modern windows and doors; a few windows have been boarded as a response to vandalism. The interior of the building retains many original features including marble and ceramic tile floors, marble and wood base moldings, ornamental plaster pilasters and crown moldings, and historic marble staircases with cast iron balusters and newels. A few of the main floor courtrooms retain massive wooden door pediments that frame swinging doors. A majority of the historic halls and individual offices are also intact. Historic and modern divisions of interior spaces, common for a building in use for the past 100 years, are present.

The Municipal Courts Building at 1320 Market Street measures roughly 300 feet (at South 14th Street) by 220 feet (at Market Street) and sits on a site bounded by a parking lot and Clark Street to the south, South 14 Street to the west, Market Street to the north and both City Hall and 12th Street to the east. The building is on a raised grade surrounded by grassy and landscaped yards and is surrounded at the north, west and east by other historic public city buildings and sites including the 1893 City Hall to the east and the 1934 Municipal Auditorium to the west.

The primary facade of the Municipal Courts Building faces north along Market Street. A central entrance bay is reached via a series of stone steps and platforms with massive stone railings that continue from the sidewalk into the recessed entry over 15 feet above the street. A projecting bay contains the double entrance, which including newer double doors set within original ornamental metal framing, has a wide transom bearing signage in applied vinyl lettering "1300 MUNICIPAL COURTS." Above the transom is a stone cartouche set under a semi-circular arch window bay. The newer windows are divided by metal framing. Paired Ionic columns and pilasters support the arch while the arch springs from an egg and dart base. Above the arch, a stone garland frieze flanks a panel that bears the inscription "JUSTITIA" (the name of the Roman Goddess of Justice) in sunken relief. Above at the fourth story are three double-hung windows with vertical bands of floral decoration in between. At either side of the entry bay is a three-story pilaster that contains an entrance surrounded by stone frames with shielded cartouches above. Resting upon the pilasters is a continuous articulated cornice with heavy dentils that continues along the entire building roofline. Crowning the projecting bay is a sculpture of two women flanking a massive urn. Visible behind the sculpture is the attic story.

At either side of the entry bay is a wing with base (a channeled, rusticated, raised basement floor with six sets of paired windows separated by a stone mullion); a two-story, six-section, divided window bay separated vertically by fluted, Doric pilasters and, horizontally by stone bands (covering 2nd-floor ceilings and 3rd floor flooring structures) bearing raised wreaths; and a fourth story which contains six divisions of triple windows separated by vertical bands of floral decoration. Below the fourth story is a projecting cornice with egg and dart motif; above is a massive, projecting cornice with floral (likely acanthus) ornamentation and heavy dentil blocks. A continuous stone balustrade wraps around the building and terminates at the primary entrance central bay and attic story.

At the front three bays of both the west and east elevations, the decoration and detail present on the primary elevation continue (except plain, geometrical window panels between the second and third floors as well as single windows in bays while the fourth story windows are doubled versus tripled); these bays project from the west and east elevations a little over one bay outward. Crowning these wings is a massive cartouche set within the stone balustrade. To mirror the symmetry of the one-bay bump out near the primary elevation, the rear of the building also projects from the west and east elevations by one-bay. Between these projections, thirteen bays are separated by stone pilasters. The basement level contains rectangular cut openings with recessed windows. The first floor contains paired windows separated by stone mullions. Penetrating a stone sill course at the second floor of the east elevation are two pedestrian entrances framed with massive pilastered and bracketed arches; above the recessed entrance bay are lion-headed keystones. Except for the northernmost bay of the east elevation (which is entirely clad in limestone with a window penetration at both the second and third floors), there are twelve separated multi-light window bays that span the second and third floors; said bays are separated horizontally by stone panels with ornamental wreaths and vertically by geometrical pilasters. The windows are in bands of three and are double-hung with a transom above. The fourth floor contains thirteen bays of triple windows separated by vertical bands of floral decoration. The west elevation contains two bays entirely clad in limestone with a window penetration at both the second and third floors. Also on the west elevation are two automobile entrances that are located at the first bays nearest the bump-outs of the primary and rear elevations. These entries are surmounted by lion-headed keystones and lead into the inner courtyards of the building.

The south-facing rear elevation of the building contains a central projecting four-story bay that extends outward two bays. Similar only in mass to the primary elevation entrance bay, it contains flanking one-story additions at either side. Three sets of doubled windows separated by stone mullions in the main mass are flanked by single double-hung windows in the small additions. The second and third floors of the main mass contain three multi-light window openings; again single double-hung windows are in the small additions. The fourth floor of the projection has three sets of double windows. Flanking the projection, the remaining elevation contains identical wings with pedestrian entrances (similar to the east elevation) centered within two pairs of double windows separated by stone mullions at either side. The second and third floors (in addition to the fourth) contain six sets of similar windows as the west and east elevations. The sill courses, cornices, and balustrade continue around the elevation.

Through the primary entrance, one enters a vast, open hall which technically comprises the second floor with reddish marble steps, multi-colored ceramic tile floor, stone bases, plaster framed signage boards mounted on plaster walls, columns, and ornamental plaster ceilings. Nearest the building front are two flanking stairs that go down to the ground-floor basement and up to the fourth story: ornamental metal railings curve to allow smooth transition from stair to floor. Two additional sets of similar stairs are located towards the building rear. Radiating from the main corridor are the larger courtrooms; reached under massive, pedimented wooden doorframes, some with carved owls, and the rooms contain elements of the original use. Visible through the courtroom windows are the light wells and interior courtyards. Division of smaller offices is located nearer the building edges where smaller courtrooms are also located.

The second floor (actually the third) contains a closed central hall with office divisions. The hall exits to the semi-circular arch window. A multitude of office spaces are present on the floor. The third floor (actually the fourth) contains a long, open hall; not as decorative as the first-floor hall, it retains its ceramic tile floor. Spaces range from finished rooms to partially-stripped footprints. The fourth floor (technically the attic) is raw open space with exposed brick; used as storage the space is utilitarian in nature with no ornamentation. Visible in the attic space are the four concrete piers which were constructed in 1910 to support a future tower.

The basement story which is actually the first floor at ground level has a primary entrance at the rear which opens into a grand hall space. Stone steps and concrete floors accent the halls. Smaller offices and spaces continue around the building footprint. Below the basement is a sub-basement which is set below ground; it contains a variety of storage spaces and equipment rooms.

Municipal Courts Building, St. Louis Missouri North-facing elevation (2012)
North-facing elevation (2012)

Municipal Courts Building, St. Louis Missouri North-facing elevation primary entrance detail (2012)
North-facing elevation primary entrance detail (2012)

Municipal Courts Building, St. Louis Missouri North-facing elevation and northeast corner (2012)
North-facing elevation and northeast corner (2012)

Municipal Courts Building, St. Louis Missouri East-facing elevation (2012)
East-facing elevation (2012)

Municipal Courts Building, St. Louis Missouri East-facing elevation pedestrian entrance (2012)
East-facing elevation pedestrian entrance (2012)

Municipal Courts Building, St. Louis Missouri West-facing elevation vehicle entrance (2012)
West-facing elevation vehicle entrance (2012)

Municipal Courts Building, St. Louis Missouri West (left) and rear, south (right)-facing elevations (2012)
West (left) and rear, south (right)-facing elevations (2012)

Municipal Courts Building, St. Louis Missouri Rear, south-facing elevation (2012)
Rear, south-facing elevation (2012)

Municipal Courts Building, St. Louis Missouri Primary elevation (2012)
Primary elevation (2012)

Municipal Courts Building, St. Louis Missouri Site to the north of the building showing Municipal Park (2012)
Site to the north of the building showing Municipal Park (2012)

Municipal Courts Building, St. Louis Missouri Second floor looking north (2012)
Second floor looking north (2012)

Municipal Courts Building, St. Louis Missouri Second floor looking south (2012)
Second floor looking south (2012)

Municipal Courts Building, St. Louis Missouri Second floor ceiling detail (2012)
Second floor ceiling detail (2012)

Municipal Courts Building, St. Louis Missouri Typical stair detail (this one is at 1<sup>st</sup> floor west corner) (2012)
Typical stair detail (this one is at 1st floor west corner) (2012)