166 years of history: Last court hearings held in Common Pleas Courthouse

166 years of history: Last court hearings held in Common Pleas Courthouse

CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, Mo. (KFVS) - The last court hearings in the Common Pleas Courthouse were held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 14.

It marked the end of a 166-year-long era in the history of the Circuit Court of Cape Girardeau County.

The court provided a history of the area.

The site of the Common Pleas Courthouse and Courthouse Park, now called Ivers Square, was donated by Cape Girardeau city founder Don Louis Lorimier in 1805. At that time, the court was the General Court of Quarter Sessions of the Louisiana Territory.

According to the circuit court, the title to that property was in question because of its transfer from Spain to France to the United States. The court was moved to Jackson in 1812 and the first courthouse was built in Jackson in 1818.

Cape Girardeau was the site of river commerce and a courthouse was built there in 1854 to hear civil cases known as “common pleas.”

During the Civil War, they said the building served as the headquarters for the Union Provost General and Ulysses S. Grant passed through on his way to taking charge of the Union Army in Cairo.

Eventually, the Missouri court system was unified and Common Pleas Courthouse joined the Jackson Courthouse as the site of civil, criminal and domestic relations trials in Cape Girardeau County.

“Millions of dollars have changed hands as a consequence of civil trials in this building. Criminal defendants have been convicted and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment while others acquitted and set free. Thousands of marriages have ended within these walls. But the second floor courtroom has also seen the joy of adoption hearings, marriage ceremonies and the beginnings of careers as new lawyers and new judges were sworn in to begin their duties. All of that came to an end today.”
Press release from Cape Girardeau County courts

Starting on Monday, May 18, the first hearings will be held at the new Cape Girardeau County Courthouse on High Street in Jackson.

“The charm and history of Common Pleas Courthouse necessarily gave way to a modern, secure, efficient facility,” Cape Girardeau County courts said in the release.

They said it was the end of one era and the beginning of a new one.

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