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Historic Federal Courthouses
This site created by the Federal Judicial Center presents nearly 600 images of historic federal courthouses and other buildings that have served as the meeting places of federal courts. These photographs were compiled from the collections of various federal repositories and agencies. They include an image of every meeting place of a federal court for which there was a photograph of acceptable quality.
Captions indicate the date of the image and the name of the building at that time. Each entry then lists the date of the building’s completion; the supervising architect or, in the case of commissioned designs, the private architect; the dates that various federal courts used the building; the building’s fate or current use as of January 2007; and a citation indicating the source of the original photograph. In addition to the thumbnail and larger images, high-resolution files are provided for print use.
Note: Any use of these images should credit the original source, indicated in the citation beneath it, not the Federal Judicial Center. The Federal Judicial Center does not maintain a collection of original courthouse photographs.
The largest group of photographs is from Record Group 121 at the National Archives, the records of the Public Building Service and its predecessor agencies. Most of the images drawn from RG 121 were collected by the Office of the Supervising Architect in the Department of the Treasury, which was responsible for the construction of most civilian federal buildings until 1939. The images from RG 121 are largely a photographic record of completed federal construction projects, but the records include some photographs of the construction and alteration of these buildings. The selected images show the best available views of finished buildings, as well as extensions that significantly alter the look or footprint of the original structure. In 1901, the Office of the Supervising Architect compiled a book of photos and text, A History of Public Buildings, describing all the public buildings under the control of the Treasury Department. Some of the photographs that were not available in other locations are included here.
Other images in this site are from the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), a project of the National Park Service available through the Library of Congress, and the Annual Report of the Supervising Architect of the Treasury Department (1869-1920). The General Services Administration provided additional images and information for historic buildings under their care. The National Register of Historic Places, which is administered by the National Park Service, provided further information and images not found at other repositories.