Visitors Guide to the
Thebes Courthouse
Oak and 5th Streets
Cairo, Illinois
618-764-2658
 

 
Gravel Parking Interpretive Signage Illinois Historic Site
   





 
 

This hand-hewn stone courthouse was completed in 1848 atop a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. The building was constructed under the supervision of H. A. Barkhauser of Unity planned the building with a front porch in the style of the Deep South. The walls are of unhewed sandstone laid in mortar. The timbers are all of local timber hewed for the floors, the roof, and the shingles were split from native timbers. The walls were plastered from local products, lime burned from local limestone and mixed with sand binding. This courthouse was the county seat of Alexander County until 1884 when the county seat was moved to Cairo. Legend says Scott was imprisoned for one night in the in the dungeons below. Dred Scott was a slave whose eleven-year legal fight ended with a U.S. Supreme Court decision that Scott was still a slave, which preceded the Civil War. Historians have found records that an African-American man spent one night there, about the time Scott might have learned the outcome of the decision from the high court, and turned himself in to the nearest authorities. Some say Abraham Lincoln may have tried a case there but there are no records that show that Lincoln ever practiced law at the Thebes courthouse. He was acquainted with a local family and probably visited their home. The building was used as a Baptist church back in 1879 and then as a school.

 
     
  Visiting the Thebes Courthouse
     Late-March - October:
          Saturday: 10 am - 4 pm
          Sunday: Noon: 4 pm
          May be closed due to heat or other inclement weather
     Other times may be arranged with advance notice

There is no charge to visit the Thebes Courthouse, although donations are appreciated.
 
   
 
Directions: From IL-3 take Poplar Street to 5th Street. Take a left on 5th Street and proceed one block to the Thebes Courthouse.
 
   
  GPS Coordinates
37 13.177'
W 89 27.594'
 
   
  Learn more about the Thebes area.  
     
 
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