A PUBLICATION OF THE MARYLAND JUDICIARYSPRING-SUMMER 2009 vol. 12, no. 4
Historic Prince George’s County Courthouse
Celebrates Opening of Renovated Duvall Wing
The hallowed halls of the Prince George’s County Courthouse hold special memories for Judge William D. Missouri. Decades before his appointment as a judge, he was an eager, young lawyer, arguing the first of many cases inside the 19th-century courthouse, appearing in front of some of the state’s most prominent jurists.
A launching pad for the careers of many successful Maryland jurists, state legislators and other local leaders, the Prince George’s County Courthouse has served as a powerful anchor for democracy and the Rule of Law, as well as the epicenter for the county’s economic growth and social progress.
“Things have changed a lot,” said Judge Missouri, Circuit and County Administrative Judge for and Chief Judge of the Seventh Judicial Circuit, and County Administrative Judge for Prince George’s County. “They’ve improved as our county as grown.”
First built in 1881 in the heart of a rural tobacco community, the Prince George’s County courthouse has undergone several expansions and renovations, and has risen as a phoenix from the ashes of a disastrous fire to remain a historic landmark and architectural icon for the county.
On November 3, 2004, just 45 days before renovations were to be completed and employees were to move back in to the facility, a fire broke out in the attic of the historic Duvall Wing of the courthouse. The fire quickly spread throughout the three-story portion of the courthouse resulting in a major four-alarm blaze. State and county officials quickly mobilized to salvage portions of the Duvall Wing and began planning for its restoration. Nearly three-and-a half years later, judges, employees and residents gathered at the steps of the Prince George’s County Courthouse on March 12 to celebrate the opening of the renovated and largely rebuilt historic Duvall Wing.
“The renovations include new accessible entrances, technologies, and secured corridors for personnel and persons in custody,” said Circuit Judge Sheila R. Tillerson Adams, who oversaw the project for the Prince George’s County Circuit Court. “We wanted to celebrate the rich history of justice in our county by restoring the Duvall Wing, which has always been a landmark on Main Street in Upper Marlboro. However, behind the historic façade of the Duvall Wing there are seven new jury courtrooms that include the Circuit Court’s largest trial courtrooms, secure judges’ corridors, offices for the Clerk of the Court, the Sheriff, a children’s waiting room, public access counters, and expanded offices for the Register of Wills, the Orphans’ Court, the Grand Jury and the Office of the State’s Attorney.”
Among the speakers who celebrated the Duvall wing’s re-opening was Chief Judge Robert M. Bell of the Maryland Court of Appeals, who praised officials for a successful partnership.
“For the citizens of Prince George’s County, it is critical to understand that we are dedicated to ensuring full and fair access to justice and this building and all of the work that had to go into making sure it came into fruition is a symbol of that commitment,” he said.