Well howdy and let me show you some cool stuff! I was supposed to have jury duty today but for those of you who don’t live in Baltimore City or have never had jury duty anywhere; lemme hip you to the fact that your summons will have a juror number on it. You will also have to go online or call Baltimore City to find out if you actually have to show up or not. My juror number was in the 900’s but they only were going to need 1 through 600 so I didn’t even have to go downtown. It was a free and paid day off. Can you dig it?!
But hold on everyone, DIG THIS INSTEAD! I went down to the courthouse anyway because my beloved, Anna, reminded me that we still needed to get a marriage license for our impending nuptials. I adore our old, beautiful Clarence Mitchell Jr. Courthouse. It is ornate and powerful and it is the very image that one should get in their head when they think of what a courthouse should look like.
It’s a shame that photography isn’t allowed inside the building. Unless you can roam around inside, you’ll never see the stained glass, off-set atrium ceiling, the worn marble stairs, the hallways lined with photos and artist rendering of judges long dead. I swear there is almost a steampunk thing going on in the offices. NOTHING is up-to-date! It’s gorgeous in it’s aged simplicity. Baltimore is full of this kind of thing. It must be a reason why Terry Gilliam used Baltimore’s Power Plant building for the interiors in “12 Monkeys”.
Jeez, speaking of movies, the Mitchell Courthouse was the setting for Barry Levinson’s, “And Justice For All” starring Al Pacino.
Wow! No decent stills of the inside of the courthouse from the movie? Well here’s Pacino sitting on the courthouse steps.
Now before I go much further, I should tell you that I did indeed get our Marriage License and I cannot wait to show you a photo of it. Trust me, it’s not totally boring.
I was able to find a photo of that atrium that I mentioned, let’s see how it looks on the old blog.
Let’s move on the meat of the story. After I got the license, I was in no hurry to leave. I had to wander around and discover more coolness. I had been on the 6th floor and started roaming around on the 5th when I saw a door that was all the way open. Most of the doors are closed, which allowed me to admire their heavy ornate woodiness and their massive hinges. Yes, the hinges are impressive! Anyway, this door was open and it looked like a little library/break room. It was empty and stocked floor to ceiling with bound law journals/books. I enjoyed this for a minute and noticed that this was actually kind of an anteroom. Another door was open and I just had to walk through. I’m nobody. I don’t belong here and if anyone, like the Sheriff’s Deputies who provide security saw me they would at least shoo me away. I couldn’t help myself, I had to walk in. I silently strode into this room that was truly a law library. In the center was a huge, heavy table surrounded by the kind of wooden chairs that you see appraisers on “Antiques Roadshow” wetting themselves over. What was truly amazing about this room was that all of it’s windows were these large portholes. There must have been 7 or 8 of them. It was just weird. What an odd architectural choice. Maybe it had been designed that way as a nod to Baltimore’s seafaring history. It definitely allows a lot of natural light in. If you scroll back up and look at the picture of the building, you can see them on the both sides of the courthouse. Remember how I said that photography is prohibited inside the courthouse? Well I couldn’t help myself. I walked to the dais and snapped this shot.
Isn’t that crazy?! After I took this, I actually stood on a chair to look out on to the street below. I had this fear/fantasy that the chair would break and I would have to high-tail it out of there! I could see the headline in the Baltimore Sun, “Crazed Groom-to-be Crushes Antique Courthouse Chair”. As quietly as I could, I crept out of the room and right as I was to pass through the anteroom and out into the hallway, I heard a slight cough behind me and could see the door to this obviously exclusive chamber being creaked to a close. There was no one anywhere near me when I was in that room. There was only the one way in and out. I must have perturbed the ghost of one of those old judges that hung on the courthouse wall.
Let me close with yet another very Baltimore thing. Remember how everything in the courthouse is not new. Old technology everywhere. Well I guess that part of that crumbling technology is the thingy that prints on the marriage licenses. Check this out.
Look at that!! It’s uneven! Isn’t that incredible? This just screams “Baltimore” and I wouldn’t have it any other way.