Judiciary Square in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
A Courthouse Reborn
Civil War to Civil Rights
— Downtown Heritage Trail —
The old City Hall/Courthouse endured hard use, was abandoned, and then was transformed. In 2009 it re-opened as the DC Court of Appeals, redesigned by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, which modernized the interior while preserving its historic features. A graceful glass atrium defined the new main entrance, and the limestone walls gleamed. A grand new ceremonial courtroom was constructed beneath the south lawn.
The Court of Appeals now stands among other dignified courthouses. But in 1822, when the mayor and council moved into the new City Hall, their neighbors were the hastily built Washington County poorhouse, the Washington Jail, and eventually the Washington Infirmary, providing medical care to the poor.
The jail was especially bleak, confirming criminals and debtors together with the insane. In addition the cells held fugitives from slavery, enslaved people, and free African Americans who had broken one of the Black Codes that governed their lives until DC emancipation in 1862. For example, African Americans could not be on the street past curfew without a permit. The city required all free African Americans
By the 1870s the poorhouse and infirmary were long gone. The reviled Washington Jail was finally razed in 1878 after the new jail was built near the Anacostia River. In their wake, the city commissioners transformed the landscape of the tears into a beautiful city park, with curving paths, a watchman's lodge, and a marble fountain. In 1991 the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial opened where the park had been.
Erected 2012 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number e.6.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Government & Politics. In addition, it is included in the Downtown Heritage Trail series list.
Location. 38° 53.758′ N, 77° 1.062′ W. Marker is in Judiciary Square in Washington, District of Columbia. Marker is at the intersection of E Street Northwest and 5th Street Northwest, on the right when traveling east on E Street Northwest. Located near the E Street entrance. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 444 E Street Northwest, Washington DC 20001, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Sitting in Judgment (about 300 feet away); Old City Hall (about Discover DC / Judiciary Square (about 500 feet away); The National Building Museum (about 500 feet away); Building Out the Square (about 500 feet away); a different marker also named Discover DC / Judiciary Square (about 600 feet away); Senator Daniel Webster (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Judiciary Square.
Also see . . . Judiciary Square, Washington, D.C. (Submitted on August 21, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
Credits. This page was last revised on May 18, 2020. It was originally submitted on May 20, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 635 times since then and 24 times this year. Last updated on August 21, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on May 20, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 11, 12. submitted on August 14, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.