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Old Supreme Court Chamber


  • Vicinity: North Wing of US Capital Building

The Old Supreme Court Chamber is the first room constructed for the use of the nation's highest judiciary body and was used by the Court from 1810 until 1860. 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. The unusual ceiling is formed by nine lobed vaults held by stone ribs supported by heavy brick piers and a three-bay arcade built parallel to the old east wall. 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. It was daring to attempt such a ceiling over a one-story room and clever for not using the old walls for support. It is one of Latrobe's most admired achievements. - US Architect of the Capital


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Timeline

Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
1805/02/04 John Randolph of Roanoke Prosecutor Senate impeachment trial of Judge Samuel Chase, 4 February to 1 March 1805. The House of Representatives charged Judge Chase with eight articles of impeachment. Impeachment Trial of Judge Chase
1805/02/04 Aaron Burr Jr Presiding Judge Senate impeachment trial of Judge Samuel Chase, 4 February to 1 March 1805. The House of Representatives charged Judge Chase with eight articles of impeachment. Impeachment Trial of Judge Chase
1805/02/04 Samuel Chase Defendant Senate impeachment trial of Judge Samuel Chase, 4 February to 1 March 1805. The House of Representatives charged Judge Chase with eight articles of impeachment. Impeachment Trial of Judge Chase
1805/03/00 Brice John Worthington Life Brice John Worthington travels to Washington to be with Samuel Chase during the impeachment of the Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Impeachment Trial of Judge Chase
1810/00/00 John Marshall (Chief Justice) Work Chief Justice John Marshall presides as the Supreme Court meets for the first time in the Capitol chamber
1818/03/10 Daniel Webster Defence attorney Daniel Webster defends Dartmouth College's right to retain their private charter Dartmouth College v Woodward
1818/03/10 Henry Brockholst Livingston Associate Justice Daniel Webster defends Dartmouth College's right to retain their private charter Dartmouth College v Woodward
1819/02/02 Joseph Story Associate Justice Chief Justice John Marshall's majority opinion read. Dartmouth College v Woodward
1819/02/02 John Marshall (Chief Justice) Chief Justice Chief Justice John Marshall's majority opinion read. Dartmouth College v Woodward
1824/02/05 Bushrod Washington Associate Justice Thomas Addis Emmet and Thomas J Oakley argue for Ogden (New York State), while William Wirt and Daniel Webster represent Thomas Gibbons at the US Supreme Court. Gibbons v Ogden
1824/02/05 Joseph Story Associate Justice Thomas Addis Emmet and Thomas J Oakley argue for Ogden (New York State), while William Wirt and Daniel Webster represent Thomas Gibbons at the US Supreme Court. Gibbons v Ogden
1824/02/05 John Marshall (Chief Justice) Chief Justice Thomas Addis Emmet and Thomas J Oakley argue for Ogden (New York State), while William Wirt and Daniel Webster represent Thomas Gibbons at the US Supreme Court. Gibbons v Ogden
1824/02/05 Gabriel Duvall Associate Justice Thomas Addis Emmet and Thomas J Oakley argue for Ogden (New York State), while William Wirt and Daniel Webster represent Thomas Gibbons at the US Supreme Court. Gibbons v Ogden
1824/02/05 Daniel Webster Defence attorney Thomas Addis Emmet and Thomas J Oakley argue for Ogden (New York State), while William Wirt and Daniel Webster represent Thomas Gibbons at the US Supreme Court. Gibbons v Ogden
1824/02/05 Thomas Todd Associate Justice Thomas Addis Emmet and Thomas J Oakley argue for Ogden (New York State), while William Wirt and Daniel Webster represent Thomas Gibbons at the US Supreme Court. Gibbons v Ogden
1827/00/00 William Thomas Carroll Sr Work Willian Thomas Carroll begins working as Clerk of the Supreme Court. He will working there until 1855.
1841/02/24 Roger Sherman Baldwin Defense Attorney Roger Sherman Baldwin gives a compelling legal defense centering on the basic liberties of human beings and the free status of the illegally enslaved before the Supreme Court of the United States of America. United States v The Amistad
1841/02/24 John Quincy Adams Defence Attorney John Quincy Adams Argues the Amistad Case before the US Supreme Court United States v The Amistad
1841/03/09 Joseph Story Associate Justice Senior Justice Joseph Story reads the decision of the US Supreme Court United States v The Amistad
1844/05/24 Samuel F B Morse Inventor Samuel Morse sends the message, "What hath God wrought" over his telegraph 30 mi (48 km) from the Supreme Court chamber in the basement of the US Capitol building in Washington DC to Baltimore and Ohio's Mount Clare station in Baltimore, Maryland. Invention of the Telegraph
1849/00/00 Abraham Lincoln Lawyer Lincoln argues case before United States Supreme Court Lewis v Lewis
1857/03/06 Dread Scott Plaintiff US Supreme Court issues their Dred Scott Decision Dred Scott v Stanford
1860/00/00 Supreme Court moves up to the former Senate Chamber and the Supreme Court Chamber became a law library.

History »

The Supreme Court first met in this chamber in 1810 with Chief Justice John Marshall presiding. In 1860 the Court moved upstairs into the former Senate Chamber and this room was converted into the law library. 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 the 1960s the chamber had been abandoned and stood vacant until restored in 1975. - US Architect of the Capital


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