Friday, December 11, 2015

Jamestown, New York: The Robert H. Jackson Center

The Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown, New York, is unique. It's the only place in the country that honors the memory of a Supreme Court Justice in such a way.

The Center is located in downtown Jamestown. It's an old mansion, built by the Kent family in 1859-60, that has been updated for use in this way. The main part of the building has offices and meeting rooms. A room looking out of the front of the building quite well done. Then there's a room named after Ulysses S. Grant, who visited Jamestown once. The room, pictured here, is great for meetings or small functions. It does feel like an old, nice mansion.

An area that used to be the barn once upon a time has been converted in meeting areas. There's a fine theater that seats 200 people, and can be used for movies, speeches, etc. Down below it is a room that seats perhaps 120 for banquets, etc.

Jackson had an interesting life, which is remembered here. He was a good lawyer once upon a time when he had the chance to become friends with Franklin Roosevelt. Obviously, FDR had a high opinion of Jackson's talents. Eventually, Jackson was named Solicitor General, Attorney General, and Supreme Court Justice - all within a few years. When President Harry Truman needed someone to conduct the war trials of several Nazi leaders after World War II, he picked Jackson - who by all accounts did a superb job. Jackson went back to the Court when that job was done, and was putting together am excellent body of work when he died in his early 60s in 1954 - right after being part of the famous Brown vs. Board of Education decision that ended legal segregation.

There are interesting items sprinkled around the building. For example, one hallway has the framed autographs of every Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Two books on Jackson were sent to current Justices, with the request that one be autographed and returned for display. They all did so, some with interesting notes. Posters about some of those tried in Nuremberg line the walls of the banquet room. It's a rather chilling story.  Jackson's desk in Nuremberg was pulled out of storage by the military, and his chair from his Supreme Court days is also there.

One last note - a docent usually is around to give tours. The staff couldn't have been more friendly to visitors.

It obviously helps to have an interest in history to go to a place like this, but this really is an appropriate tribute to one of Jamestown's native sons.

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