Guides Continue Court Education with Justice, Historian
By Csaba Sukosd | November 18, 2019
Few people know the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center like the building's tour guides. But for all of their insight, there's always more information available.
As part of a day in which the Ohio Supreme Court justices and staff showed their appreciation for the volunteers, the guides learned even more about the history of the building, its historical context as part of downtown Columbus, and the people who produced it.
"A lot of times we get groups of people from Columbus. It's always very interesting to talk to them about how the building came about, and what the history of the city was," said Elise Porter, who's been a guide since 2016.
Providing even more knowledge to the stewards was architectural historian, Barbara Powers, who works in the State Historic Preservation Office for the Ohio History Connection - a statewide, nonprofit history organization. During her presentation, she detailed how developers were drawn to the banks of the Scioto River in downtown Columbus as an epicenter for state and federal government buildings in the early 20th century. Prior to becoming the state's court of last resort in 2004, the structure was founded as the Ohio Departments Building, which housed the offices for numerous state entities and departments.
"What it endured was the tradition: the way the building works as a building, how highly functional it actually works through its circulation, and through its spaces," said Powers.
The day's "educational programming" continued with an impromptu lesson from Justice Michael Donnelly, who joined the volunteers for lunch. He shared some of his experiences on the bench, and described the dynamics of what it's like to deliberate with six other justices on decisions.
"The magic number's four, and if you can get four [votes], you've got it. If you're not in the majority, then you just say your piece," Justice Donnelly said.
Those in attendance appreciated the new nuggets of knowledge, not only for their own gain, but as tidbits to further enhance the experience for thousands of future visitors as well.
"I loved the way [Justice Donnelly] talked about the nonpartisan way they work together," said Phil Smith, a guide for the past four years. "I'm going to use that to say, 'You know what? People can disagree, and still be friendly.'"