City News: June 2006 Archives

Then & Now - County Courthouse

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Considered one of the finest examples of Beaux Arts Classical architecture in the nation, the Riverside County Courthouse is a gem among civic buildings.

Designed by the architectural firm of Burnham and Bliesner of Los Angeles, the 1903 courthouse is patterned after the "Grand Palais" (Grand Palace) and "Petit Palais" (Little Palace) both from the 1900 Universal Exposition (World's Fair) in Paris.

TN-riv-courthouse-1960s-2006.jpg
Riverside County Courthouse
Main Street at Tenth Street
Flash: View photo overlay

1900-pc-grand_palais-002-500.jpg
1900
Grand Palais
Paris, France

riv-2006-dt-courthouse-022-600.jpg
2006
Riverside County Courthouse

The courthouse, which originally cost a mere $160,280 to construct, was rededicated October 5, 1998 following a 3-year, $25 million renovation and seismic upgrade.

The picturesque courthouse was the indirect result of an intra-county tax dispute. San Bernardino County -- of which at the time included present-day Riverside -- voted to raise taxes to fund expansion of the existing county courthouse located in downtown San Bernardino. However, this new tax was not taken lightly in Riverside, wherein higher property values equated to a higher share of the overall courthouse tax. Compounded by other similar issues, this new tax spurred Riverside officials to expedite proceedings that eventually led to the May 2, 1893 establishment of Riverside County.

Of course, Riverside now needed to fund and build its own county courthouse. Fortunately, the city's continuing rise in wealth made such funding much easier. In fact, by 1895 -- just 2 years following the establishment of the new county -- the City of Riverside was the richest city per capita in the United States. As such, the city soon began the process of commissioning new civic buildings -- including the courthouse -- that reflected the city's new wealth and stature.

However, had the city and county gone the expected route of building a Mission Revival-styled courthouse (as backed by influential Mission Inn owner Frank Milller), the elegant courthouse we see today may not have been. Instead, county supervisors were eventually persuaded in favor of a French-inspired, Beaux-Arts design. Without a doubt, the significance of that decision could not be more important today as the unique courthouse stands out among civic buildings.

In 1930, a major expansion to the courthouse by local architect G. Stanley Wilson increased courtrooms on the back, or eastern elevation (Orange St.). Designed to mimic the original Beaux-Arts motif, the expansion fits in well against the original design. However, a bulky and spartan post-war addition to the southeastern elevation (Orange/Eleventh streets), though unique in its own way, stands out in stark contrast against the magnificently detailed facades of both the original and expansion.

Regardless, thanks to the foresight of county supervisors in 1995, the grand courthouse will stand for generations to come, reminding residents and visitors alike of both the wealth and vision of the city's residents during the formative years.

Flash: County Courthouse: 1960s - 2006

Photo Gallery: Riverside County Courthouse

Related

1900-pc-petite_palais-001-500.jpg
1900
Petite Palais
Paris, France
riv-2004-dt-courthouse-009-450.jpg
2006
Riv. Co.
Courthouse
riv-2006-dt-courthouse-056-600.jpg
2006
Riv. Co. Courthouse
1930s expansion
riv-2006-dt-courthouse-044-600.jpg
2006
Riv. Co. Courthouse
Post-war addition

Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Metropolitan Museum, "Colony for California" (Tom Patterson), The Press-Enterprise, WikiPedia
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April 2012 | March 2012 | December 2011 | November 2011 | August 2011 | July 2011 | June 2011 | May 2011 | March 2011 | December 2010 | November 2010 | October 2010 | September 2010 | June 2010 | May 2010 | February 2010 | January 2010 | November 2009 | September 2009 | August 2009 | July 2009 | June 2009 | May 2009 | April 2009 | February 2009 | January 2009 | December 2008 | November 2008 | September 2008 | August 2008 | July 2008 | June 2008 | May 2008 | April 2008 | March 2008 | February 2008 | December 2007 | October 2007 | July 2007 | June 2007 | May 2007 | April 2007 | March 2007 | February 2007 | November 2006 | September 2006 | August 2006 | July 2006 | June 2006 | May 2006 | December 2005 | October 2004 | January 2004 | December 2003 | November 2003 |

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the City News category from June 2006.

City News: May 2006 is the previous archive.

City News: July 2006 is the next archive.

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