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Appellate Courthouse

14th & Main

Mt. Vernon, IL  62864

(618) 242-3120


Located in the center of Mt. Vernon, the Appellate Courthouse is a treasure awaiting discovery. The Courthouse was built around 1857 in the Greek revival style. Anyone interested in historic buildings and architecture won't want to miss this building and the beautiful courtroom appointed with walnut benches and judges' chairs along with other period furnishings. The Courthouse currently houses the Fifth District Appellate Court for the State of Illinois.


The Abe Lincoln Connection
One of the favorite U.S. presidents, Abraham Lincoln, argued cases at this location including a tax case where he represented Illinois Central Railroad.


The Building and The Ox-cart

Local legend has that it took three weeks to bring the twin wrought iron stairways on the outside front of the building from St. Louis to Mt. Vernon via ox-cart.

The building is a two-story brick built in the shape of a Maltese Cross. It has simple classic lines with two fluted pillars supporting the front gable in the center of which is a medallion of the scales of justice. Visitors will find rooms with extremely high ceilings, arched openings in the inner walls, and wide woodwork. Originally, the rooms were heated by huge fireplaces. The ground floor contains four bedrooms with private baths for the use of the justices when they are in Mt. Vernon and an apartment for the clerk. The second floor has the courtroom, the clerk's office, the judges' conference room, and the attorneys' waiting room.

Emergency Hospital and Clara Barton
Hospital records in Mt. Vernon show that at the time of the tornado on February 19, 1888, an emergency hospital was housed in the building under the supervision of Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross.

The Appellate Court, Fifth District
The Fifth District Appellate Court is in session throughout the year and sits periodically as its judicial business requires.

Historic American Building
The appellate courthouse was selected by the Advisory Committee of the Historic American Building Survey as possessing exceptional historic and architectural interest and as being worthy of the most careful preservation for the benefit of future generations. A record of its appearance and condition has been made and deposited for permanent reference in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Please call in advance to schedule a tour Monday-Friday.  Tours are free of charge. Closed on weekends and holidays.

Photo Credit: Donna Peacock 2002

Appellate Courthouse
C. E. Brehm Public Library
Cedarhurst Art Center
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