Every Supreme Court of Ohio visitor who ventures beyond the front entrance of the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center will spend some time in the Grand Concourse. Though it serves as entry point to the Courtroom and central artery to the building's hearing rooms, the Grand Concourse is also an architectural destination point in its own right.
Walls throughout the Grand Concourse are lined with book-match marble, which provides a distinctive pattern. To obtain it, a slab of marble is cut vertically, then horizontally, creating a mirror image on adjoining pieces. The concourse is two stories high, runs from the south end to the north end of the building and features travertine floors.
Designed by Cincinnati architect Harry Hake to be a "hall of fame" for Ohio dignitaries, the Grand Concourse contains images of the eight presidents, nine U.S. Supreme Court justices and two speakers of the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio.
Presidents (along the west wall)
William Henry Harrison, ninth president of the United States, was born at Berkeley, his family's plantation on the James River in Virginia. He was also fabulously wealthy, so his father's economic, social, and political legacy stood young William Henry — the youngest of seven children — in good stead.
Ulysses S. Grant, Union army general and president of the United States, was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio. When he was a year old, the family moved to Georgetown, Ohio, where Ulysses attended local schools and worked in his father's tannery, a job he hated, and on the farm. Shy and reticent with people, Ulysses loved horses and developed extraordinary skills of gentle discipline and command over them.
Rutherford Birchard Hayes, 19th president of the United States, was born in Delaware, Ohio. In 1838 Hayes entered Kenyon College at Gambier, Ohio, and in 1842 graduated at the head of his class. After a disappointing year of reading law in Columbus, he entered the Harvard Law School, studied under Simon Greenleaf and Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, and received his bachelor of laws degree in 1845.
James Abram Garfield, 20th president of the United States, was born in Orange township (now Moreland Hills) in the Western Reserve region of northern Ohio. After his father's death in 1833, James was brought up amid rural poverty by his strong-willed mother.
Benjamin Harrison, 23rd president of the United States, was born in North Bend, Ohio. Harrison graduated from Miami University in 1852. After studying law for two years, in 1854 Harrison moved to Indianapolis to begin a legal practice.
William McKinley, 25th president of the United States, was born in Niles, Ohio. McKinley went to school in Niles and later in Poland, Ohio. When the Civil War began, McKinley was the first man in Poland, Ohio, to volunteer.
William Howard Taft, 27th president of the United States and chief justice of the United States, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Taft attended Yale University, from which he graduated second in his class in 1878.
Warren Gamaliel Harding, 29th president of the United States, was born near Blooming Grove, Ohio. Harding attended Ohio Central College, a high school level institution in Iberia, for three years (1879-1882) and following graduation moved with his parents to Marion.
U.S. Supreme Court Justices (along the east wall)
John McLean, associate justice of the U. S. Supreme Court, was born in Morris County, New Jersey. He moved with his family to Morgantown, Virginia (now in West Virginia ), in 1789, to Kentucky in 1790, and to Ohio in 1796. He worked on his parents' farm until he was 16.
Noah Haynes Swayne, jurist, was born in Frederick County, Virginia. His parents were staunch Quakers, and Swayne's strong antislavery views may have been shaped by Quaker hostility to the practice. Swayne's plans to become a physician changed with the sudden death of his instructor.
Salmon Portland Chase, statesman, antislavery leader, and chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was born in Cornish, New Hampshire. When Chase was nine years old, his father died. To ease the financial burden on his mother, Chase, the eighth of eleven children, moved to Ohio and lived with his uncle Philander Chase.
Edwin McMasters Stanton, U.S. attorney general and secretary of war, was born in Steubenville, Ohio. Stanton attended local academies and, after his father's death in 1827, took a position as an apprentice in a Steubenville bookstore. In 1831 he entered Kenyon College, but his family's financial problems forced him to leave the following year.
Morrison Remick Waite, chief justice of the United States, was born in Lyme, Connecticut. It was expected that young Morrison would pursue a legal career, and after attending Bacon Academy and graduating from Yale College in 1837, he studied law in his father's office. A year later he settled in Maumee City, Ohio, where he was admitted to the bar and began his practice in the office of Samuel M. Young.
William Burnham Woods, politician and U.S. Supreme Court justice, was born in Newark, Ohio. Woods started his education at Western Reserve College (now Case Western Reserve University) in Hudson, Ohio, but moved on to Yale College, where he took his degree in 1845 with honors.
Stanley Matthews, U.S. Supreme Court justice, was born in Lexington, Kentucky. Matthews graduated from Kenyon College (Ohio) in 1840, studied law in Cincinnati, and moved to Columbia, Tennessee, where he was admitted to the bar and was active in Democratic politics.
William Rufus Day, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was born in Ravenna, Ohio. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1870 and spent the following year in its Department of Law. After settling in Canton, Ohio, in 1872, he began his law practice.
John Hessin Clarke gave voice to such progressive liberal causes as trust-busting, labor standards, and world peace that were high on the agenda of early 20th century America. His campaigns for the Senate, tenure as a Supreme Court justice, and years as an elder statesman for liberal policies exemplify his lifelong spirit and commitment to public causes.
Speakers of the U.S. House of Representatives (at the ends of the west wall)
Joseph Warren Keifer, soldier, congressman, and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, was born near Springfield, Ohio. Keifer was educated at home and in the district school. He taught for one term (1852-1853), worked on the family's farm, and attended nearby Antioch College (1854-1855).
Nicholas Longworth, Speaker of the House of Representatives, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Nicholas Longworth, a lawyer, and Susan Walker. He was a fourth-generation member of one of Cincinnati's oldest and wealthiest families. His great grandfather, the first Nicholas Longworth, settled in Cincinnati in 1804 and established the family fortune by speculating in land.
Two Supreme Court Justices (Harold H. Burton, associate justice 1945-1958, and Potter Stewart, associate justice 1958-1981) from Ohio were appointed after the building was constructed.