Inyo County courthouse


California Courthouses

An Illustrated History

Courthouses built throughout California over the past 150 years along with some of the stories of notorious trials, judges and lawyers. The state of California is separated into 58 counties. Counties have the responsibility of conducting all elections, collecting property-tax, maintaining public records for things like deeds, and courts at the local-level the county borders, in addition to providing law enforcement for the county sheriff to areas not located within incorporated cities. Many of these courthouses have been demolished or converted to other uses. Alfred A. Bennett (1825-1890) designed many early California buildings, including the Mechanic's Art College at Berkeley and courthouses in Yolo, Stanislaus, Merced, Tulare, Kern and Fresno counties

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Alameda County Courthouse - Oakland. The original Alameda County courthouse was constructed in Alvarado, California June 6, 1853, (now a portion of today's Union City). The county seat then moved to San Leandro and then to Oakland and in 1875 a new courthouse constructed, located near the Oakland' Washington Square. However, the building had fallen into poor condition by the middle of the1920s and reached a point where the bailiffs were holding umbrellas for judges because of leaking ceilings. County residents overwhelming approved a bond initiative April 3, 1934 to construct a new courthouse. The new county courthouse was located at the edge of Oakland's Lake Merritt, and it is still standing today, . The previous courthouse was leveled in 1949. The court presently operates several courthouses throughout Alameda county.  Alameda County Official Website
Alpine County Courthouse - Markleeville - Built in 1928 and in 2004, added to the National Register of Historic Places. Designed by Frederic Joseph DeLongchamps a profuse Nevada architect, the massive rhyolite tuff with a light cream color came from quarries near Silver Mountain City., this courthouse in Alpine County continues to be used for local government. Official Website of Alpine County
Amador County Courthouse - Jackson - Consisting of a pair of buildings, this second courthouse was built in 1864 and the adjoining Hall of Records built in 1893, were enclosed and then combined in 1939 using an Art Deco exterior. Amador County Website
Butte County Courthouse - Oroville - Completed 1856, The Butte County courts were located in this brick Courthouse in downtown Oroville during the entire time of what was called the Courthouse Wars which was a century-old dispute between Chico and Oroville for the title of county seat. In 1911 Ishi, thought to be the last living member belonging to the Yahi indian tribe, stayed before he travelled on to San Francisco, where he took up residence on the University of California campus for several years. The courts relocated in 1965 to a brand new county center, and subsequently, the original courthouse building was leveled after sustaining damage during a 1975 earthquake. Butte County Association of Governments
Calaveras County Courthouse - San Andreas
Official Calaveras County Website
Colusa County Courthouse - Colusa. Constructed in 1861. With it's Federal Classic Revival architectural style building it's the oldest courthouse remaining in the Sacramento region. It's "Southern" architecture reflects the county's states' rights sympathies and heritage during the Civil War in America, largely from Will S. Green's influence, a local newspaper editor, During its early life, the courthouse additionally functioned as a social, cultural, and religious center. Listed as California Historical Landmark No. 890.  Colusa County Official Website
Contra Costa County Courthouse - Martinez - Partially constructed by chain gangs of inmates during the years from 1901 thru 1903. Today, it's a registered National Historic Site. The cupola was used for a watchtower for World War II blackouts, but was detached in 1957 for earthquake safety reasons. By 1966, the majority of the court offices had moved to the Hall of Records, which was finished in 1933 and carries on as the county courthouse. Both buildings are in the Register of National Historic Places.  Official Contra Costa County Website
Del Norte County Courthouse - Crescent City
Official Del Norte County Website
El Dorado County Courthouse - Placerville
Official El Dorado County Website
Fresno County Courthouse - March, 1964
Official Fresno County Website
Fresno County Courthouse
Glenn County Courthouse - Willows
Official Glenn County Website
Humboldt County Courthouse - Eureka - The Cupola burned in 1924
Official Humboldt County Website
Old Imperial County Courthouse - El Centro
Official Imperial County Website
Inyo County Courthouse - Independence
Official Inyo County Website
Kern County Courthouse - Bakersfield - Demolished
Official Kern County Website
The Courthouse in Kings County in Hanford was built subsequent to Kings County being formed and put to use in 1896. Designed in an eclectic style mix in the middle of Hanford within a park, it was enlarged in 1914. The building was the county' courthouse until 1976,. and a new Kings County Government Center located on W. Lacey Boulevard replaced it. This old courthouse was subsequently remodeled during the early part of the 1980s and now is home to restaurants, offices and small shops . Official Kings County Website Kings County Courthouse in Hanford
The Lake County Courthouse, Lakeport, California was constructed in 1870. It served as the Lake County government seat from 1871 thru 1968. There were Precedent-setting water rights trials were held here, and also the notorious vigilantism murder episode, the "White Cap" trial, held here during 1890. This brick courthouse, was built by A.P. Pettit during 1870-71, which was represented the very few buildings within the area which survived the San Francisco earthquake in 1906 receiving only minor damages. It is California Historical Landmark NO. 97 and also on the National Register listing of Historic Places (NPS-70000134). The library for the county schools was in the courthouse basement until about 1968. The building is encircled by a Lakeport City Park. Official Lake County Website Lake County Courthouse
Lassen County Courthouse - Susanville
Official Lassen County Website
Los Angeles County Courthouse - 1900
Official Los Angeles County Website
Madera County County Courthouse, Madera
Official Madera County Website
Marin County County Courthouse, San Rafael - Destroyed by fire
Official Marin County Website
The Courthouse in Mariposa County, a Greek Revival Style is the oldest California courthouse and also the oldest courthouse west of the Rocky Mountains still being used as a courthouse. This courthouse was the location where landmark laws on mining were tried, thus consequently, setting legal precedent over federal mining law since 1851, back when Mariposa was still a vibrant miner trading center.

Utilizing lumber from the forests nearby and built using interlocking mortise and tenon methods and held in position by using wooden pegs. Original benches and chairs are still in use inside the simply furnished courtroom located on the second floor. Official Mariposa County Website

Mariposa County Courthouse
Mendocino County Courthouse, Ukiah
Ukiah built its first courthouse, a simple two-story brick building, in 1860. As the county prospered, officials commissioned a much grander building with two-story columns and a dome. Among the court's more dramatic trials was one in 1905 during which a man brought before the court on an insanity charge apparently was not searched and fatally shot the sheriff. The courthouse was demolished in 1950 to make way for a more modern building.
 Official Mendocino County Website
Mendocino County History
Merced County Courthouse, Merced
Official Merced County Website
Modoc County Courthouse, Alturas - Previous county seats include Lake City and Centerville which is now a ghost town
Official Modoc County Website
Mono County Courthouse, Bridgeport
Official Mono County Website
Monterey County Courthouse, Salinas - As the social and military capital for Alta California throughout the Spanish and later Mexican rule, Monterey quite naturally was the county seat in 1850 when the original 27 counties were formed. Although when it was discovered the railroad was going in the valley and was not going to be a coast route, the Monterey center of government was relocated to Salinas. After the house being used for the courthouse burned, a larger Victorian building of brick (pictured) was commissioned. It remained as a courthouse while the present courthouse was built around it, and later demolished. Today, a courtyard with commemorative sculpture and a lily pond are located on the site. Official Monterey County Website
Napa County Courthouse, Napa
Official Napa County Website
Nevada County Courthouse, Nevada City - A new two-story courthouse was built in March, 1865 after fire destroyed two previous courthouses The lower story was built of granite and the the upper with brick. The main entrance was then located on Church St., by going through an open arcade. On bottom floor was the district attorney, surveyor, tax collector, recorder, treasurer and county clerk. Fireproof vaults for record protection. Upstairs were county supervisors, judges, courtroom, trial juries, and the grand jury. The sheriff' and jail was located in the back of the building. A third story was added in a 1900 remodel which removed the graceful pillars along with the iron shutters In 1937 the building was modernized and increased to its present size. Official Website of Nevada County
Orange County Courthouse, Santa Ana
Official Website for Orange County
Placer County Courthouse, Auburn
Placer County Official Website
Plumas County Courthouse, Quincy
Official County of Plumas Website
Riverside County Courthouse, Riverside
Official County of Riverside Website
Sacramento County Courthouse, 7th and I streets, Sacramento. After the county outgrew its second courthouse, this three-story granite-and-marble county center was "built to last forever" however it was abandoned in 1965 for a more modern facility and subsequently demolished in 1970. A new county jail was constructed on the site in 1989. Sacramento Official County Website
San Benito County Courthouse, Hollister
Official San Benito County Website
San Bernardino County Courthouse, San Bernardino
Official Website of San Bernardino County
San Diego County Courthouse, San Diego - The newly built County Courthouse in New San Diego in 1872.
Official Website of San Diego County
San Francisco County Courthouse, San Francisco
Official San Francisco County and City Website
San Joaquin County - Second  San Joaquin County Courthouse - Completed 1890 - Of all the substantial buildings erected in the late-19th-century boom years in Stockton ("destined to become the Chicago of the West," according to one writer at the time), the courthouse was the most impressive. Among its many marvels was a gas well "providing heat and light without cost to taxpayers" and a statue of Justice atop a dome that rose 172 feet above the street. The building was demolished in 1961 to make room for a new courthouse. Official San Joaquin County Website Second  Courthouse San Joaquin County Courthouse - Completed 1890
San Luis Obispo County Courthouse, San Luis Obispo
Official County Website of San Luis Obispo
San Mateo County Courthouse, Redwood City - The former courthouse for San Mateo County. The building was designed by Glenn Allen and dedicated in 1910, It was was restored in the 1990s, and turned into the county's historical association in 1998. The building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Official San Mateo County Website
Santa Barbara County Courthouse, Santa Barbara - The County Board of Supervisors caused the construction of this, now historic courthouse in 1926, after the smaller Greek-Revival courthouse was damaged in an earthquake of the previous year. The building was dedicated on August 14, 1929 with a ceremonial setting of the bronze medallion provided by the Native Sons of Golden West, with the mixing of the ingredients of water from each of the California Missions; with sand and gravel from each of the counties in California; and cement from local sources; all on the main stage with a packed crowd of residents and visitors looking on during the 1929 celebration of Old Spanish Days.
Official Santa Barbara County Website
Santa Clara County Courthouse, San Jose
Official Website of Santa Clara County
Santa Cruz County Courthouse, Santa Cruz - pre-Cooper House pre-Octagon hall of Records and pre-Lulu Carpenter’s Cooper Street. Front Street and Cooper, 1867. Official Santa Cruz County Website
Shasta County Courthouse, Redding
Official Shasta County Website
Sierra County Courthouse, Downieville
Official Sierra County Website
Siskiyou County Courthouse, Yreka - The central portion of the building was built in 1854 as Siskiyou County's first permanent courthouse. Two wings were added In 1896 while cupola adorned the top of the original building. A concrete wing across the front of the original courthouse In 1896, completely obscuring it from the front. Siskiyou County Official Website
Solano County Courthouse, Fairfield - The building has reached its 100th birthday but has sat vacant since the county moved out in 2005 to a modern government center across the street. County of Solano Official Website
Sonoma County Courthouse, Santa Rosa - Built in the 1880s, the building sustained extensive damage on April 18, 1906. The courthouse wasn’t replaced until 1910. The new building was damaged by a smaller earthquake and removed in 1970. Today it's the site is Old Courthouse Square.
Official Sonoma County Website
Stanislaus County Courthouse, Modesto - 1920 Photograph The courthouse was constructed during 1872-73. by contractor Jeremiah Robinson. It was demolished in the 1950's to construct the present courthouse.
Stanislaus County Official Website
Sutter County Courthouse, Yuba City - 1900
Official Website of Sutter County
Tehama County Courthouse, Red Bluff
Official County of Tehama Website
Trinity County Courthouse, Weaverville
Official Trinity County Website
Tulare County Courthouse, Visalia - 1925 Photo
Official Tulare County Website
Tuolumne County Courthouse, Sonora
Tuolumne County Official Website
Ventura County Courthouse, Ventura
Official Website of Ventura County
Yolo County Courthouse, Woodland - The Yolo County Court House, constructed in 1917, was designed by an architect from Canada, William H. Weeks, who also designed numerous other Woodland buildings. Its reflects a Roman, Greek and Renaissance influenced architectural style . The Yolo County Courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
Yolo County Official Website
Yuba County Courthouse, Marysville - A rugged design, modeled after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers insignia, was the county's first true courthouse. Located in Marysville it served the county for 107 years until 1962, when the courts relocated to a more modern facility. This old courthouse was demolished the following year. County of Yuba Official Website

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