All across Missouri, in towns large and small, courthouses act not only as the judicial seat, but also a historic site for each of the state’s 114 counties.
That is the message of an exhibit, “Missouri History Through Its Courthouses,” which will be on display at the Buchanan County Courthouse through late September.
The Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation brought the exhibit to St. Joseph, lining the walls outside the prosecuting attorney’s office with photos and information about 13 local courthouses. Bill Hart, executive director of the alliance, said exhibit is based on a 2007 book by Dennis Weisser called “Missouri Courthouses: Building Memories on the Square.”
“We were approved for a grant to distribute a copy of the book to each school district in Missouri, with, I think, around 516 school districts in Missouri,” Hart said. “We took the 40-something photographs that we had from the book and made that a part of the grant to host five gallery exhibitions.”
Courthouses included in the exhibit include Buchanan, Nodaway, Scotland and Gentry counties, to name a few. Hart said courthouses are significant across Missouri because they represent many things, including justice, history and community.
“They represent the seat of justice for each of Missouri’s 114 counties,” Hart said. “In addition to being a focal point of the carrying out of the legal process, they’re also almost all the time very distinctive architecturally. In rural counties, they’re probably the most significant building in the whole county.”
At 6 p.m. Thursday, July 25, a historian will hold a lecture in the rotunda of the Buchanan County Courthouse about three architects of the Missouri Courthouses. The event is free to the public.