Cape County Courthouse in Jackson

This night photo of the Cape County Courthouse was probably taken when I was working at The Jackson Pioneer in 1964 or 1965. There is a story, maybe true, maybe not, that the Pioneer staff threw food color in the fountain the night Barry Goldwater was nominated for President. They wanted Jackson to wake up to Gold Water in the fountain.

2010 courthouse hasn’t changed much

I wonder if anybody will be dunking teabags in the fountain to carry on the tradition?

Took 40 years to clean the skylight

I used my quest for Jackson’s Hanging Tree as an excuse to wander around in the old courthouse. The old art glass skylight is still impressive.

The Dec. 16, 1949, Missourian had a story that the skylight had been cleaned for the first time in 40 years.  “A washing compound for glass with a sponge was used by Thomas Brothers, in charge of the interior decorating of the building. Covered with a film of black smoke and dust, the pretty color had been hidden from view. Jackson children who had grown to manhood and womanhood had never seen the glass of the dome clear and bright.”

“Each small piece of the art glass is held in place with lead and since they are fragile, the workman was cautious and expected to spend many hours on the high ladder for the cleaning.”

1870-era courthouse had basement privy

This sign looks like they might have moved it over when the 1908 courthouse was built.

Contractors shaved some corners

Records show that the contractors used columns that were composed of several pieces instead of one at the main entrances.

One of the goals was to make the building as fireproof as possible. Wood construction had been used in the dome, but the Court agreed to pay an additional $3,000 to remove the wood in the dome and replace it with metal. All of the parts of the dome, except the part where stone was exposed was to be covered in copper.

Wood floors replaced with mosaic tile

The contractors tried to slip in wooden floors, but they were required to put in ceramic mosaic tile as specified.

Tile has held up well

Despite the thousands of feet pacing on it, the tile floors have held up well.

Much stone came from Cape and Jackson

The Jackson Post & Cashbook quoted workman William Craig that “blue limestone was quarried near Jackson and was hand cut on site. The white limestone of the second and third stories was quarried at Cape Girardeau near the old Normal School (Southeast Missouri State University today).”  Some of the sheets were 10’x10’x4.

The steps were also quarried near Cape. The cornice stone is from Bedford, Ind.; the wainscoating is of Tennessee marble and the columns are Bedford stone.

View toward downtown

This is looking south from the second floor toward the Jackson’s downtown.

World War I Memorial

I wrote about the memorial to the Cape County World War I dead earlier.

Gallery of Jackson Courthouse photos

Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the photo to move through the gallery.

13 Replies to “Cape County Courthouse in Jackson”

  1. My great grandfather, Linus Sanford, was a judge and lawyer (Harvard graduate) who walked to this courthouse every day from his home on High Street. (His home was given to the city of Jackson and is now the city park.) My grandfather had a surveying office in this courthouse for many years in the early 1900’s. I love to visit Jackson and daydream about my ancestor’s lives in the earliest eras of this building. I have some old pictures of the courthouse in the late 1800’s that I treasure, thanks to the Archives – located diagonally from the courthouse. Jackson is a living museum for me.

    1. The Jackson courthouse feels small, but it looks like it’s in good shape for its age.

      I was in the Scott County courthouse in Benton over the weekend – it’s the same era as Jackson’s – and it, too, is quite attractive.

      They knew how to build public buildings in those days.

  2. My uncle, William Pervis Crites, was a Justice of the Peace many years. I always spent time at their home in the summer. They had no children, so I was their’s for a week or two. He would take me all over when he did business and errands. I loved going to the courthouse with him.

    My great grandfather had also been aJustice of the Peace, but I think he was in Bollinger County. The farm they had was on the county line in the Daisy, Sedgewicksville and Friedheim areas.

    Thanks for the memories, Ken. I look forward to your entries every day!

  3. Ken, this is a wonderful history of the Cape County court house that as far as I know have never been in, as many times that have been in Jackson. I have made up my mind that the next trip to Cape, I will make a trip to Jackson and tour this magnificent building. Thanks againfor this account.

    1. It’s worth a stop. And, while you’re in the area, walk over to the County Archive Center if you’ve never been there.

      Nice folks and more information than you can shake a stick at.

  4. Sometime in the mid 1940’s the door to the clock tower was left unlocked and I used to climb up to the area behind them. There was a man that used to keep the clocks timed and he had a collection of dessicated ” cud balls ” there. That is the only time I have ever seen and handled one of these. I wonder if any one remembers the time keeper’s name?

  5. Ken,
    I really enjoyed your pictures of our stately old courthouse in Jackson. Didn’t know it was so “fire-proof”. That building is certainly Jackson’s claim to fame and their “Rock of Gibraltor”. One of my jobs as a loan officer at both Heritage S&L in Jackson and at Mercantile Bank in Cape was to process and attend foreclosure sales on those courthouse steps. Both of our kids had graduating class pictures made on those steps. I’ve been inside many of the offices also but have NEVER SEEN the beautiful stained glass dome. Where in the courthouse can one look up and see the dome?
    If there’s one thing that most of the small towns in the Southeastern part of the US can be proud of, it’s their majestic courthouses. They really are the “keystones” in their respective towns.
    Another great set of pictures to copy into my collection of interesting and historic buildings in Cape and Jackson. Thanks!

  6. i would like for them to replace the concret around the court house on the four streets that go around it and block them off to make the court house look great and add a new look. i love to drive by and see how beautiful it really is. have a parking garage for staff and visitors to use. make them pay a dollar a day. have john welch use different colors of concret. how neat is that? pretty cool!

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