The dedication of the 28-story Dade County courthouse took place on Thursday, September 6, 1928. There were more than 7,000 people who attended the dedication ceremony, many who waited more than hour in the hot afternoon sun for the start of the official ceremonies.
The lobby was crowded with people waiting on elevators to take them up to the twenty-fourth floor and observation balcony. Hundreds walked up the stairs to visit the various county and city offices. When the building opened, it not only housed Dade County officials, but became city hall for the City of Miami.
The official ceremony began at 4pm with a selection by the Miami Fire Department band and the singing of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ led by Errol Crawford, the leader of the Miami Lions Glee Club. Next, Harry Goldstein, former commander of the Harvey Seeds Post of the American Legion, presented an American Flag to Hugh Peters, the chairman of the county commission.
The men who delivered speeches during the dedication were Hugh Peters and Miami Mayor Everest G. Sewell, on behalf of the city. Peter’s remarks were brief and deferential to the citizens of the county:
“This building is the property of the people of Dade County, theirs to use and enjoy as the business of the county. It is not here because of the labor of any one man, or any set of commissioners, but as a monument to the people of Dade County. This county has challenged the admiration of the world during the last three decades in the progress it has made in every line of endeavor, and we see on every hand, in the great projects of public improvements undertaken and carried out by the people, tokens of their faith in the present and future of Southern Florida. This courthouse is no longer a dream or something to be hoped for on a distant day; it is a finished job. We think it is a credit to the people of this county and we congratulate you for demanding and getting the best.”
Peter’s speech was followed by the drawing of a veil from over the cornerstone of the building by J.W. Humphreys, who was an associate architect with the firm of A. Ten Eyck Brown, which completed the dedication of the building. Next, Mayor Sewell characterized the dedication as “another milestone in the progress and development of Dade County.”
Sewell went on to state:
“Some people have criticized the building as being too large for the present needs of the city and county. If the building is too large, as many say, let us build up the business of Miami to the level of this magnificent structure. This building should be as a shaft of light for those seeking the finest land in America.”
The courthouse towered 335 feet above street level when it was completed in 1928. It was considered the tallest public building in the United States, and the tallest edifice south of Baltimore, at the time of the dedication. The structure was completed at a cost of $4,062,779.
The new county courthouse was initially constructed around the old courthouse beginning in 1925. In 1926, the old courthouse was completely vacated and soon after demolished. During the construction of the new building, the courts were moved throughout Miami until the new building was complete and ready for occupancy.Click Here to Subscribe
- Book: “The Path to Justice. The Story of Florida’s Eleventh Judicial Court”, by Dr. Paul S. George.
- Miami Herald: “Dade County Moves into its Fifth Home”, Arthur H Peavy on September 6, 1928.
- Miami Herald: “7,000 at Dedication Ceremonies of New County Courthouse”, September 7, 1928.
- Cover: Dade County Courthouse on September 6, 1928. Courtesy of Florida State Archives.
- Figure 1: Gathering outside of courthouse during the dedication. Courtesy of Miami Herald.