A Treasure Within a Treasure
~Museum celebrates Baltimore's rich legal history
(and two decades of its own)~
Left to right: Joseph K. Pokempner, Baltimore
and Law Museum Foundation; Michael J. Baxter, President,
Baltimore Courthouse & Law Museum Foundation;
Philip Sherman, Museum Co-Founder;
Michael I Gordon, Bar Association of Baltimore City
It has been called “a treasure within a treasure” and “one of the most
beautiful courtrooms in Maryland”. And on October 22, the Museum of
Baltimore Legal History, housed in Room 243 of the century-old Clarence M.
Mitchell, Jr., Courthouse in downtown Baltimore, celebrated its 20th
anniversary with an open house.
Founded on October 24, 1984 by Chief Judge James F. Schneider, U.S.
Bankruptcy Court for Maryland, and Philip Sherman, Chair of the MSBA
Senior Lawyers Section, the museum is filled with historical artifacts of
Baltimore’s Bench and Bar. Managed by the nonprofit Baltimore Courthouse
and Law Museum Foundation, Inc., the museum features a self-guided
walk-through tour. Museum highlights include a copper jury wheel, used for
the selection of jurors in Baltimore City through the 1960s, as well as
displays outlining the history of Baltimore City courthouses, judges of
the Supreme Bench and pioneering women and minorities of the Baltimore
Bench and Bar. Other points of interest include The British Surrender at
Yorktown, a mural commissioned in 1907 to world-renowned French muralist
Jean-Paul Laurens, and an Ephraim Willard Tall Case Clock, a Baltimore
Orphans Court fixture since at least 1810.
The courtroom itself, richly decorated in West Indian mahogany wainscoting
and parquet flooring, formerly served as the Orphans Court of Baltimore
City from 1900 to 1977.