The Old Supreme Court Chamber

The Senate Chamber from 1800 to 1808, this room was the site of the first presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., when Thomas Jefferson took the oath of office on March 4, 1801.

After 1808, the room was reconstructed for use by the Supreme Court, which met here from 1810 until 1860. During this era, Chief Justice John Marshall established the foundations of American constitutional law. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney also presided in this chamber, where he delivered his infamous decision in the Dred Scott case on March 6, 1857.

Considered an outstanding example of our nation's rich architectural heritage, the room was designed by architect Benjamin Latrobe as the first permanent meeting place for the Court. The umbrella vault ceiling is considered a masterpiece, both structurally and aesthetically.

The Old Supreme Court Chamber was restored in 1975 under the direction of the U.S. Senate Commission on Art. It now appears as it did during the period of 1850-1860, when last occupied by the Court. Many of the room's mid-19th century furnishings have been returned to their original setting. Chief Justice Roger Taney's judicial robe is on view, as are exhibits on Chief Justice John Marshall and the meeting places of the Court. A Capitol Guide is stationed in the room to provide interpretation and answer questions.
 

Historic Events in the Old Supreme Court Chamber

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