Anatomy of a Murder Shows Off Marquette in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

The movie poster for Anatomy of a Murder, which was shot in Marquette Michigan.After visiting Marquette Michigan, we came home and downloaded a copy of Anatomy of a Murder.  The 1959 classic starring Jimmy Stewart, Lee Remick, Eve Arden, Ben Gazzara, Duke Ellington and George C. Scott, based on the book by the same name, was nominated for Best Picture that year. Duke Ellington won three Grammys for his work in the movie.

But the real star of the show is the Marquette County Courthouse. When scouting for the right location for the movie, director Otto Preminger came to Marquette because the story is based loosely on a real murder that took place here in the 1950s. As soon as he saw the courthouse, Preminger decided to shoot the majority of the movie right here.

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Marquette County Courthouse

The exterior dome of the Marquette Michigan County Courthouse.Although “Anatomy of a Murder” is in black and white, it’s easy to appreciate the magnificence of the courthouse. At three stories tall with an imposing copper dome protecting a spectacular stained glass ceiling in the third floor courtroom, the courthouse is certainly worthy of a stop when visiting Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.


A beautiful white marble staircase, framed in gold, in the Marquette Michigan County Courthouse.The exterior is constructed of massive red sandstone and brownstone quarried in the Keweenaw Peninsula, the lobby and stairway of white marble, and the courtroom itself is tricked out with walnut and mahogany. But then you look up into the intricate details of that stained glass ceiling and you ask yourself – “wow, why don’t they make things like this any longer?”

A beautiful glass dome inside the courtroom of the Marquette County Courthouse in Michigan's upper peninsula.The people of Marquette County paid $240,000 for this beauty back in 1904 and they are still getting their money’s worth out of it. Each year, hundreds of classic movie fans make the trek to Marquette just to see this famous building.

The “Anatomy of a Murder” pilgrimage also includes a little restaurant and bar called the Mt. Shasta in nearby Michigamme. That’s where the scene with Duke Ellington and Jimmy Stewart playing the piano was shot. On down the road in Ishpeming is the Mather Inn. That’s where they say Duke Ellington composed the soundtrack of the movie at a piano at the bar. The entire cast stayed there and it is a Michigan State Historic Site.

Michigan State Historic Site in the U.P.

The historic marker outside of the Marquette Michigan County Courthouse.The courthouse is also a Michigan State Historic Site, in part because President Teddy Roosevelt appeared here when, in 1913, he sued a local newspaper publisher for libel. The publisher eventually retracted some of his unpleasant comments about the president and Mr. Roosevelt was awarded six-cents.

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