The Biscayne Times

Sep 21st
County Courthouse #3: Still Standing, Still Judging PDF Print E-mail
Written by Paul S. George -- Special to the BT   
July 2013

A view of our past from the archives of HistoryMiami

BPix_PictureStory_7-13uilt between 1925 and 1928, the Dade County Courthouse was a singular building not only for Miami but for all of South Florida. Designed by Ten Eyck Brown, who also designed Los Angeles City Hall, which closely resembles our courthouse, and Walter DeGarmo, a prominent local architect, the building at 73 W. Flagler St. rose 27 stories above the flat streetscape of downtown Miami.

It remained the tallest building in South Florida until 1963, when the new Ferre Building in the 200 block of Biscayne Boulevard eclipsed it by 12 feet.

The county courthouse, with its ziggurat-stepped roof, was a product of the heady days of Miami’s great real estate boom. County officials expected the steep population rise of the first half of the 1920s to continue indefinitely. But when the boom collapsed in 1926, and the population failed to reach the earlier projections, the courthouse faced the prospects of ample empty space.

Consequently, the county invited the City of Miami, whose offices were located directly across Flagler Street from it, to move into the new building, which it did.

The City of Miami brought with it the city jail, which occupied, along with the county jail, several of the upper floors of the building. The city remained in the county courthouse until it moved to a new city hall at Dinner Key in 1954.

This move provided extra space for the growing Eleventh Judicial Circuit, as did the county’s move to a new, nearby government building in 1985. The Eleventh Judicial Circuit is the fourth-busiest circuit in the United States, and many of the area’s most celebrated cases -- civil and criminal -- have been heard in its courtrooms.


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