Ouachita Parish Courthouse
Located at: 300 St John Street, Monroe LA. 71201
Please use the front entrance facing the river on South Grand. The St John Street entrance opposite St Francis is for disabled access only.
You may park, without cost, in the lot adjoining the Courthouse and Courthouse Annex, in the St. Francis Parking Garage above the fifth floor, or in the lot across the street by the Ouachita River
Directions to Ouachita Parish Courthouse:
• Depart I-20 at the Civic Center Exit.I-20 Eastbound
• Go straight at the traffic light past Monroe City Court, past the St. Francis Hospital
Parking Garage, and past the next building (Courthouse Annex).
• The Ouachita Parish Courthouse will be on your right.
• Depart I-20 at the Civic Center Exit.
• Follow the signs to the Hospital, taking a left at the bank at the bottom of the hill to go
back under I-20.
• Take a left at the traffic light.
• Go past the St. Francis Hospital parking garage and past the next building (Courthouse
Annex). The Ouachita Parish Courthouse will be on your right.
Call Judges' Reception at 318-361-2250 if you need assistance.
History of the Courthouse
Ouachita Parish court records from the days of Fort Miro give an interesting look into the history of the court system in Ouachita Parish.
In the early days, the courts of justice met at various locations throughout the parish to serve the general convenience. Of course at that time, Ouachita Parish covered the entire northeast corner of Louisiana. This area has since been divided into the parishes of Ouachita, Madison, Tensas, East Carroll, West Carroll, Morehouse, Union, Caldwell and Franklin.
The first courthouse in Ouachita Parish was built in 1816 on a plot of land, donated by Don Juan Fihoil, which is the present courthouse square. The courthouse was a two-story structure of mixed hewn logs and frame with the ground floor used for a jail and the second floor as a courtroom. Also in 1816, a building that was used as the Clerk of Court's Office was constructed. It was a small, one room stucco building. It was constructed on the southeast corner of the plot of land. This building, which is still standing, is considered to be the oldest in Ouachita Parish.
In 1819, a steamboat, named the "James Monroe", traveled down the Ouachita River. The residents then changed the name of Fort Miro to Monroe.
The first legal hanging in Ouachita Parish was in October of 1822. A man named Russell Brooks was convicted of murdering the man who stole his horse, so he was hung from the branch of an oak tree on the courthouse lawn.
The second courthouse was built in 1860. It was constructed of wood frame and stucco. In April of 1864, Yankee gunboats partially destroyed the courthouse as is evidenced by a note to his superiors from a Northern officer "We burned the courthouse, railroad depot and bridge at Monroe."
The third Ouachita Parish courthouse, a red brick two-story building with plantation style galleries, was completed on Nov. 8, 1883. East Baton Rouge contractors Hannan & Voss built the structure at a cost of $25,000.
In 1924, Ouachita Parish residents approved a bond issue for approximately $500,000 to build a new and modern courthouse on the same original site. The new courthouse, built of reinforced concrete, Indiana limestone and a granite base, was completed in 1926. It had a copper roof and marble corridors, stairways and wainscoting. The new courthouse included three stories with a basement and one extra floor that was used for the jail. The jail included a gallows room, which ended public hangings.
For almost forty years, the courthouse provided adequate space for the parish government and courts, but with the growth of the parish due to the industrial expansion in the area, more room was needed. After much debate and consideration the police jury voted to award the contract to remodel the Ouachita Parish courthouse to Jesse F. Heard & Sons, Inc. The $1,567,000 remodeling project began in the fall of 1966 and was completed in the spring of 1969. The central part of the courthouse as well as the marble stairways and halls remained much the same, with the major changes being in the two extensions at each end of the building where complete renovation and enlargement of the facility was completed.
The current and most recent renovation to the historic Ouachita Parish Courthouse was brought about by the growth of the justice system in the area and the need for additional courtrooms and office space for both court and parish governmental functions.
The old Ouachita Parish jail, on the fourth floor of the courthouse, was gutted and that space was reconfigured and built out as new courtrooms and offices for the nine 4th Judicial District Court judges and the administrative staff of the court. The original third floor courtrooms also received a refurbishing and updating with modern communications facilities and increased security.
Local architect Bill Land, whose father designed the 1960's renovation, was responsible for the redesign and update planning of the facility to fill the needs of today and the foreseeable future.