Built by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, it was a significant architectural achievement, for the size and structure of its vaulted, semicircular ceiling were virtually unprecedented in the United States. A masterpiece of architecture and engineering, the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the U.S. Capitol was designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe and built as part of his north wing reconstruction in 1808-1810. Floor plans The Supreme Court Building was erected in 1938-40 to the designs of architect Ernest Cormier. Today, it has been restored to its mid–19th-century appearance. His solution to this problem was both effective and elegant. A public telephone (TTY/TDD) is available on the ground floor in the vending machine alcove adjacent to the Maryland Avenue door. Management of the … Since it is the highest court of the land, it is often used as a symbol of the judicial branch of U.S. Government.
At the right side of the sculpture, an eagle protectively rests one foot upon books containing the written laws.
After division of the chamber in two levels, this room was used from 1806 until 1860 as the Supreme Court Chamber. For the next 41 years, the Supreme Court met in this chamber. After the Court left the Capitol in 1935 this chamber was divided into four rooms and used by the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. In front of the eastern arcade are mahogany desks for the nine Supreme Court justices, set off from the rest of the room by a mahogany railing.
These stout new supporting piers carried the room's most dramatic feature: a lobed, vaulted ceiling that has often been likened to an umbrella or a pumpkin. On the justices' right sat the Attorney General and the clerk and deputy clerk of the Supreme Court. Parallel to the east wall he constructed a deep three-bay arcade carried on sandstone Doric columns modeled on those of the Temple of Poseidon (the shortest, and thus the strongest, columns that survive from classical Greece). They also met in Philadelphia in 1790, when the capital moved there, and then finally moved to Washington in 1800 and met in the newly constructed U.S. Capitol Building. An 1854 diagram was discovered that proved invaluable in establishing the architectural layout and furniture arrangement of the room. Chief Justice's Year-End Reports on the Federal Judiciary.
Public restrooms are located on the ground and first floors. This construction technique, which is similar to medieval practice, reduced the old walls to mere screens. Sixteen marble columns are below the triangle-shaped pediment, which contains a group of figures above the motto "Equal Justice Under Law.” Two marble statues by sculptor James Earle Fraser are on either side of the main entrance; on the left is a seated female figure called the “Contemplation of Justice,” and on the right is a seated male figure called the “Guardian or Authority of Law.”. Latrobe's reputation was severely damaged by this accident, but he persevered in his efforts to make the Old Supreme Court Chamber both beautiful and durable.
In 1929, former President and Chief Justice William Howard Taft worked to establish a permanent home for the Court; the cornerstone was laid three years later, in 1932, and the building completed in 1935. Note: See the U.S. Courts Design Guide and other courts design resources for floor plan configurations typical of additional courtroom types. Located in Washington, DC, the Supreme Court Building is directly east of the U.S. Capitol Building and is just north of the Library of Congress’s Jefferson Building. The central figure in the relief is Justice, who is seated and holds a pair of scales in her left hand; her right rests upon the hilt of an unsheathed sword. The winged youth seated beside her is Fame, who holds up the Constitution of the United States under the rays of the rising sun. The Supreme Courthouse (New York County Court), located at 60 Centre Street, overlooks Foley Square.
Water fountains are located at the ground floor restrooms only. The fifth floor has a basketball court which is sometimes referred to as “the highest court in the land.”. The new masonry ceiling did not impose any additional weight or put new lateral pressure on the old walls and thus was supported independently of the old work. Today it is used primarily as a museum, recreating the scene of many significant moments in the evolution of the United States Supreme Court and the judicial history of the nation. It is one of Latrobe's most admired achievements. The U.S. Supreme Court building turns 75 this year; ... the oak-paneled library on the third-floor is the court's information center. Since there was no dedicated space for them at first, the Supreme Court met in locations outside of the Nation’s capital. The Supreme Court vacated the Capitol in 1935, and the room was used for a reference library until the 1940s. When Lenthall attempted to remove the centering prematurely, the vault collapsed, crushing him under its weight. Above the clock is a plaster relief sculpted in 1817 by Carlo Franzoni.
Latrobe demolished the two-story Senate Chamber and the large, unfinished room above it as well as adjacent lobbies and offices. In the 1960s the chamber had been abandoned and stood vacant until restored in 1975. Some measure of his success may be seen in the fact that the chamber survived the efforts of British troops to burn it on August 24, 1814. The main entrance to the Supreme Court Building is on the west side that faces the U.S. Capitol Building. A significant element of Latrobe's plan was a one-story room on the ground floor intended to be used by the Supreme Court. Latrobe could not know that the Supreme Court would continue to share quarters with the legislative branch until 1935. Displayed at the rear of the room are busts of the first four chief justices.
He also built a semicircular arcade several feet away from the old western wall. The coat hooks on the wall opposite the bust carry the names of the justices on the Supreme Court from 1858 to 1860 (the label "Chief" indicates Chief Justice Taney). The foundation is 385 feet long and 304 feet wide. Supreme Court Building facts and figures: To learn more, see the Supreme Court site. Its vaulted ceiling is divided into lobes by 10 ribs. Seven of these desks are 19th-century originals, believed to have been purchased for the court in the late 1830s. If you are bringing a group to visit, please call the Cafeteria manager at 202-479-3246 for information about arranging lunch.
Over the west fireplace hangs a clock ordered for the chamber by Chief Justice Taney in 1837. The accommodation of the court in the Capitol had always been considered a temporary arrangement.