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City-County Building

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(Artist Unknown)

 

The City-County Building is the newest building to house a courtroom for the Supreme Court. Finished in 1917, the granite Art Deco building was designed by prolific local architect Henry Hornbostel.

 

City-County Building is so named because it houses the offices for the legislative, executive, and judicial offices for both the City of Pittsburgh and County of Allegheny. The Supreme Court moved to the City-County Building after decades of hearing arguments in the Courthouse building, next door.
 

The Courtroom

Located on the eight floor, the Courtroom was designed by an associate in Horbostel's firm, Edward Lee. The wood oblongs, set like large bricks, the fluted columns, and the bar and bench are all mahogany.

 

Photograph of the room before the addition of the chandeliers and Trumbull's murals behind the bench. (Photographer Unknown)

 

The Bench

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Pennsylvania's coat of arms is carved into the Justice’s chairs and its individual elements of the seal are represented in wood medallions on the bench.


Specifically, a ship carrying the state’s commerce to the world, a plow working our rich natural resources, three golden sheaves of wheat representing our state’s fertile fields and our citizens’ wealth of human thought and action. And finally, an American bald eagle, demonstrating Pennsylvania’s loyalty to the United States.

 

The Law Givers

All of the murals in this room were painted by a local artist, Edward Trumbull. The first, completed in 1917 are on the ceiling and depict three great law givers, all framed by gilded plaster.

 

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Furthest from the bench is the Byzantine Emperor, Justinian, famed for the reformation and codification of Roman law.

In the middle is Moses, seated and holding two tablets on which he carved the ten commandments.

Closest to the bench, is the English king, Edward the First. Also known as Edward Longshanks, he spent much of his reign reforming the common law. The years that you see, represent the four times the state constitution was amended by convention. However, absent is the fifth, and most-recent, convention held in 1968, which created a Unified Judicial System administer by the Supreme Court.

Behind the Bench

Trumbull was also commissioned to paint three murals behind the bench in 1923.

 

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Behind the Chief Justice, Trumbull painted the Commonwealth's Coat of Arms.

 

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To the left of the bench Trumbull paints William Penn at the signing of the Great Treaty with the Lenape tribe along the Delaware river in current-day Philadelphia. 

 

And to the right, is William Pitt, the Elder. Pitt was a leader in Great Britain who, later in his life, found high esteem with the American colonists after publicly supporting much of their positions. Pittsburgh is the namesake of William Pitt.

Interested in visiting the City-County Building?

Contact Pittsburgh's Tour Guides.

Note: The courtroom is used for official and ceremonial events throughout the year and may not be available during your tour.

Interested in visiting the City-County Building?

Take a virtual tour of the courtroom.

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