Just next door to the McQuarrie Daughters of the Utah Pioneer Museum in St. George, sits the newly opened St. George Pioneer Courthouse. This building has been a fixture on the St. George Boulevard for more than a hundred and fifty years, but just recently, the building has opened for tours.
The building has been used as a courthouse, school, jail, and as offices for the city. The Pioneer Courthouse was built in 1866, and the building was later added to the National Historic Registry in 1970. Since then, it has mostly sat empty and unused. But a recent deal with the Sons and Daughters of the Utah Pioneers has made it possible to visit inside.
Enter the Pioneer Courthouse through the back door, and a tour guide will greet visitors. A short walk through several offices on the ground floor has a few historical displays and plot maps of the city. One large section focuses on the difficulty of finding water in the desert for the Pioneers. This problem continues to be a concern in the present day.
After exploring the main floor, the tour leads downstairs to the basement where the jail cells are found. One famous story of the murder of the county sheriff is related in the jail. You can still see the sandstone and lava footings of the buildings, and the cells are often damp in the spring and fall. Another interesting display focuses on a prominent Pioneer from the area, and the display is changed out frequently.
The upstairs floor of the St. George Pioneer courthouse was used for the courtroom. Large windows and murals brighten up the room, and seats for the judge, jury, and other participants are still visible. The tour ends in this room with a few explanations of the room and its other uses.
We enjoyed this short tour. Plan only about 30 minutes in the St. George Pioneer Courthouse, and make sure to visit the Daughters of the Pioneers Museum next door, too! The Pioneer Courthouse is open Monday, Friday and Saturday from 1-2 pm (2021 info).