Brief History of the Everett McKinley Dirksen U.S. Courthouse
The Everett McKinley Dirksen federal courthouse building construction was completed in the summer of 1964. The architects and engineers were Schmidt, Gardner & Ericksen, Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe, C. F. Murphy Associates, A. Epstein & Son, Inc., and the contractors were Paschen Contractors, Inc., and Peter Kiewit Sons and Company.
This 30-story structure sits on a two-acre site and was built to replace the old U.S. Courthouse that was located across the street where the current John Kluczynski and U.S. Post Office building now sit. Plans included 18 courtrooms to be used by the U.S. District Court, U.S. Court of Appeals and the bankruptcy court.
On October 26, 1964, dedication ceremonies were held for the new $35,000,000 federal courthouse building. The U.S. Courts began moving in the week of November 23, 1964. The U. S. District Court Clerk’s Office occupied the 20th floor.
The new facility was the first of three buildings planned for the new federal center in downtown Chicago and was expected to house 5,500 federal employees working for 19 different federal agencies.
The building was rededicated on July 17, 1970 in memory Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen, who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1933 to 1949, and the United States Senate from 1950 to 1969.
The plaza in this complex has a very impressive art display known as the Calder Stabile also known as the “Flamingo.” The sculpture stands 54 feet high and weighs about 50 tons. The creator, Alexander Calder, was present at the dedication ceremony held October 25, 1974.
In April of 1965, the 65-year historic U.S. Courthouse was demolished after much opposition. The old Roman Corinthian style courthouse was dedicated by president William McKinley on October 9, 1899. The old courthouse was the scene of some of the nation’s most sensational trials, in October 1931, Al Capone was sentenced to 11 years in prison for income tax evasion, in 1963 James Hoffa was convicted of fraudulently misusing 20 million dollars of teamster pension funds.