The Dade County Courthouse: A Beacon of Justice

September 22nd, 2014



Photo courtesy of the Florida Archives.

A beacon of justice, the Dade County Courthouse has had an illustrious past spanning over 80 years. This historical building was the first high-rise built in downtown Miami. It was also Dade County’s third courthouse. Standard Oil tycoon Henry Flagler donated the land at 73 West Flagler Street where the second courthouse, built in 1904, once stood. The third justice building was built around the second building. This new court of law was designed by A. Ten Eyck Brown and completed in 1928. When it was built this Neoclassical structure was said to have been the tallest building south of Atlanta. It served as the county courthouse, city hall and originally housed jail cells. Convicted criminals were held inside cells located on the top nine floors of the facility. Over 70 prisoners escaped the maximum security prison when they discovered that the locks of their cell windows could be picked. After the 1960′s a new, more secure prison was constructed at a different facility.

In June of 2008, Courtroom 6-1 was fully renovated to its original 1928 glory. Inside this historic time capsule, wooden ceiling beams are intricately carved with floral patterns. Ornate sconces adorn the courtroom’s newly restored plaster walls and polished Florida pine floors. Courtroom 6-1 is also notorious for its many high profile cases. In 1930 Al “Scarface” Capone was found not guilty of perjury. In 1933 Giuseppe Zangara was found guilty of the attempted assassination of President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt. Socialite Candy Mossler and her nephew Melvin Lane Powers were acquitted in the murder trial of Jacques Mossler in 1966. During the 1990’s, America’s momentous tobacco hearing was also held in courtroom 6-1.

court_courtroom_restored_jad                                                                  Photo courtesy of the

 Presently, the historic court of law is experiencing maintenance issues, and is now undergoing a $30 million exterior restoration, which is necessary in order to shield the structure from additional interior water damage. This landmark is also plagued by termites, flooded basements and air quality issues due to mold. A referendum for a new Miami-Dade County courthouse will be on the November 2014 ballot. The proposed new courthouse will cost $500 million and will be funded by an increase in property taxes. Currently, there is no planned location for a new courthouse. Developers from All Aboard Florida have expressed interest in acquiring the current courthouse property. They seek to feasibly include the courthouse tower as part of their train station design. Meanwhile, the future of Dade County’s historic justice building remains uncertain.

 -Ursa Gil


All Aboard the Rebirth of Flagler’s Railroad

September 5th, 2014 "It's Coming Down This Week!" read the newspaper headlines in 1963. The City of Miami decided that the downtown Miami Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) station needed to be demolished. Continuing labor strikes had disrupted passenger service for years Read More...

The Vagabond Motel Reopens

August 26th, 2014

  The Vagabond is arguably one of the most conspicuous buildings along Biscayne Boulevard's MiMo district. After being abandoned for over a decade, the 1950's motel located at 7301 Biscayne Boulevard officially reopened on August 18, 2014. This retro motor lodge is an iconic example of Miami Modernist Architecture,also known as MiMo (a term coined by a Miami Beach resident named Randall C Read More...

Sidetracked with Broward County Roadside Attractions

August 13th, 2014

As the summer slowly comes to an end and the Learning from Miami road trip makes its way south, we visit several of the gone but not forgotten roadside tourists attractions throughout Broward. Long before Mickey Mouse and his gang delighted visitors at the Walt Disney World Resort, which opened in October 1971, locals and tourists, both young and old, enjoyed many themed amusement parks off of the highway Read More...

Mar-a-Lago: “Jewel of Palm Beach”

July 23rd, 2014

From St. Augustine down to Palm Beach, the historic summer getaway tour makes a quick rest stop at a one-of-a-kind lavish estate fit for a queen. The 20-acre property was originally the winter home of Majorie Merriweather Post, heiress to the Post cereal empire and prosperous businesswoman. These days, Mar-a-Lago is an exclusive private club at the heart of Palm Beach County, between Lake Worth and the Atlantic Ocean Read More...

Gilded Age Glamour at Flagler’s Hotel Ponce de Leon

July 3rd, 2014

Time to board the Florida East Coast Railway train and head up north to St. Augustine for this week's summer historic road trip. St. Augustine is a city that boasts a diverse, multicultural history dating back to Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León's 1513 arrival. Standard Oil tycoon Henry Flagler envisioned an "American Riviera" getaway for visitors escaping the harsh Northern winters Read More...

Take a Dive into Miami Beach’s Roman Pools

June 20th, 2014

Roman Pools Bathing Casino, 1926. Photo Courtesy: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory The next stop on the historic Florida summer getaway tour is Miami Beach. Before the days of luxury oceanfront hotels and pastel-painted Art Deco buildings, people flocked to the famous Miami Beach Bathing Pavilion and Swimming Pool Read More...

Breeze into Summer at The Barnacle in Coconut Grove

June 5th, 2014

The scorching summer heat is fast approaching South Florida. What better way to cool off than sitting on a rocking chair overlooking Biscayne Bay? The open-air verandas at The Barnacle provide comfortable cooling shade while visitors take in the ocean breeze on the hottest of days. Ralph Middleton Munroe Read More...

Old Meets New: Florida at the 1939 ‘World of Tomorrow’

May 21st, 2014

Florida Pavilion at 1939 World's Fair New York. Photo Courtesy: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory Visitors to the 1939 World's Fair in Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York (now the location for the Queens Museum) were amazed by the exhibits highlighting the futuristic 'World of Tomorrow.' At the entrance stood the iconic 700-foot Trylon obelisk and the 18-story Perisphere Read More...

The Tropics Come to Chicago’s 1933 World’s Fair

May 7th, 2014

People got a taste of Florida's subtropical architecture miles away from the sunny beaches at the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago with Robert Law Weed's Florida Tropical House. Officially known as A Century of Progress International Exposition, the 1933 World's Fair theme explored the impact of scientific discoveries on society Read More...