It’s likely that you pass the Caddo Parish Courthouse often and have gotten so used to it that you never really see it anymore. We hope this helps bring it back into view.
The current courthouse is the third one to sit on the same 2.5 acre spot in the middle of downtown’s Central Business District; the ‘courthouse square’ bounded by Texas, Milam, McNeil and Marshall Streets.
The first courthouse to occupy the site was built in 1859, and for a time during the Civil War, it served as the Louisiana Statehouse. This wooden structure was demolished in 1890 to make room for a much grander brick building. It was not the first of the courthouses downtown. One courthouse that occupied a building at Market Street and Crockett St. (across from the current Festival Plaza) was sold at tax sale. We are unsure whether this counts as karma or irony or both.
Back to the current location. Of all the buildings, the 1890 building was certainly the most beautiful, as you can see from the photo. In 1902 the Caddo Parish Confederate Memorial was installed on the grounds by the Daughters of the Confederacy. The trees that you see in the foreground are oaks, donated in the late 1800s. They still survive today.
This beautiful 1890 building was torn down to make way for the third and present courthouse, completed in 1928. Locally famous architect Edward Neild gained national notoriety when President Harry S. Truman, impressed with the look of the Caddo Parish Courthouse, asked Neild to design the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Mo., the Jackson County (Missouri) Courthouse, and work with him on a rehabilitation of the White House.
Though in our humble opinion the exterior isn’t as architecturally inspired as the 1890 courthouse, there is much to be impressed about. The Caddo Courthouse, envisioned and designed by Neild, has beautiful and unique touches. Be sure to look UP as you walk into the building. The ceiling throughout the ground floor is breath-taking.
Just inside after entering either the Milam or Texas Street doors (you will be asked to go through security by pleasant Caddo Parish deputies) is where the beauty really begins. Though several areas of the courthouse are open to the public, unless you have a guide you will be unsure of what history transpired there. However, the ground floor is filled with beauty and history and you are welcome to linger there during business hours. Look at the Rosetta marble wall and pink and gray Tennessee marble floors that are bordered in Belgian black marble. Bronze lamps and torches line the marble walls outside. The chandeliers inside are ornate and fabulous.
Be sure to take some time to study the cabinets filled with historical artifacts relevant to both criminal justice and Caddo Parish.
Outside on the Milam Street side, don’t miss the unique clamshell water fountain donated in 1931 by a group of women’s educational and civic clubs- Hypatia (which still has a Shreveport chapter), Authors, Polymnia, Warner, Pierians, Civic League and the Home Charitable Association.
There is a lot to learn about the history of the Courthouse. You can start with a self tour and find more at: