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Washoe County Clerk's Office The Washoe County Court House Historical and Preservation Society Presented by the Washoe County Clerks Office EXIT © 1999,

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Presentation on theme: "Washoe County Clerk's Office The Washoe County Court House Historical and Preservation Society Presented by the Washoe County Clerks Office EXIT © 1999,"— Presentation transcript:


2 Washoe County Clerk's Office The Washoe County Court House Historical and Preservation Society Presented by the Washoe County Clerks Office EXIT © 1999, All Rights Reserved Washoe County Court House Historical & Preservation Society P.O. Box 1125, Reno, Nevada Original Artwork by Loren Jahn

3 The Washoe County Court House Restoration Project EXIT The History The Architect The Restoration Preserving Our Heritage

4 The History n Long before the penny was part of the nations mint and the Model T could be seen idling around our citys streets a courthouse cornerstone was laid on the south bank of the Truckee River on June 22, The Washoe County Court House was quickly being constructed and downtown Reno was born. EXIT

5 The History n Reno sprung from the coming of the transcontinental railroad in 1868 and started out as a small town with miners, rail workers and entrepreneurs for citizens. One of Renos first and foremost entrepreneurs was Myron Lake. He owned property south of the Truckee River and the toll bridge that crossed it. He acquired the bridge in 1862 and was granted an exclusive franchise by the legislature. Making an average of $300 a day, a healthy sum of money even by todays standards, Myron Lake soon became a very wealthy and infamous citizen in town. Soon people started to complaining about Lakes Crossing and the county commissioners ruled against Myron Lake declaring Lakes Crossing a public road. Today that road is known as Virginia Street. EXIT

6 The History EXIT

7 The History n When the county seat was moved from Washoe City to Reno by the peoples vote in 1871, Lake made an offer of land and money for the building of the Washoe County Court House that couldnt be refused. Lake offered a one-acre site just south of the river plus $15,000 to help with the building. The Washoe County Commissioners accepted, and the county soon paid $20,000 to Septimus F. Hoole for the construction of a two-story brick courthouse. Hoole had already sold his courthouse plans to the county for $150. The original courthouse had a balcony above the main entrance, interior side chimneys and a tin-covered cupola with windows. The lower floor housed offices for the clerk, recorder, treasurer and sheriff, and also included the jail. The courtroom and district attorneys offices were located on the second floor. This was the first great landmark for the town. It was a courthouse that provided resources, meeting places and gathering headquarters for the people of Washoe County. EXIT

8 The History EXIT

9 The History n A shrewd businessman, Myron Lake made an offer of a one-acre parcel of land just south of the Truckee River and $15,000 for the building of the Washoe County Court House. n Hes also credited with owning and operating the original Riverside Hotel and for establishing what is now Virginia Street. EXIT

10 The History n Thirty-six years later, Reno had grown tremendously and the Washoe County Commissioners thought their courthouse was ready for a change. They held a design contest for a new courthouse that was won by a promising young architect, Frederic DeLongchamps. His Neo-Classical design incorporated the old courthouse inside the new one. The two-story stone structure included Corinthian columns supporting the front entrance and a copper dome. The inside of the new building boasted gray marble wainscoting and pilasters with black marble bases, mosaic tiled floors, marble columns in the entrance hall and leaded glass in the ceiling of the dome on the second story. The cornerstone of the DeLongchamps building was laid on June 15, 1910 and construction was completed almost a full year later on June 1, EXIT

11 The History n By the 1940s the courthouse was cramped for space due to the demands of the quickly growing county. DeLongchamps once more was contracted to design additions to the courthouse along with his partner, George OBrien. A north wing was completed in 1946 followed by a south wing in By the 60s the county was once again growing larger that its courthouse, so DeLongchamps and OBrien went to work to design the west annex. Completed in 1963, the three-storied west annex differed greatly from his original 1910 design. The side entrance of the west annex today serves as the main public entrance to the courthouse. Today, the old courthouse is home to the Washoe County District Court, the County Clerk and the District Attorney. Other county court services are housed in nearby buildings. EXIT

12 The History EXIT

13 The History n (Pictured previous) two men take advantage of this photo opportunity at the Washoe County courthouse on April 26, n The Washoe County courthouse is one of the oldest functioning courthouses in the state of Nevada. Today, the courthouse is home to the Washoe County District Court, the County Clerk and the District Attorney. EXIT

14 The Architect Frederic Delongchamps n Frederic Joseph DeLongchamps was born in Reno on June 2, 1882 of French-Canadian parents. His father, Felix, came to this region in the 1860s and earned his living in the construction business. Frederic worked for his father up until he graduated from Reno High School in He went on to college and attended the University of Nevada, graduating from the School of Mines in EXIT

15 The Architect n Soon after he graduated, he moved to San Francisco and became an apprentice in an architectural firm. He returned to Reno in 1907 starting his own architectural office, which remained there until his retirement in n The Washoe County Court House was his first major work in Nevada. He went on to design and oversee the Reno main Post Office, the original Riverside Hotel, the MacKay Science Hall at the University of Nevada and six other county courthouses in Nevada and California. In 1919, DeLongchamps was named the Nevada State Architect. That same year he supervised the design and construction of the Heroes Memorial Building, the Supreme Court Building and the State Library Building all in Carson City. n DeLongchamps maintained his private practice from 1909 to 1938 by himself. In 1939 George L.F. OBrien became a partner and in 1962, Hewitt C. Wells joined as well. The DeLongchamps, OBrien and Wells firm continued to design buildings well into the 1960s, and was responsible for designing every part of the courthouse that now stands from 1910 to the present. In his 60 years of practice, DeLongchamps is credited with the design of over 500 buildings. Frederic DeLongchamps died in Reno in EXIT

16 The Architect n The courthouse is a two-story stone structure faced with limestone. There is a raised basement, a flat roof with a cornice and a massive copper dome. n Delongchamps designed the limestone version of the courthouse as a façade built around the original brick version. The Delongchamps addition is an adaptation of a neo- classical design following the beaux-arts style he studied. There are columns, pilasters, marble and ornate iron that decorate the interior of the courthouse. EXIT

17 The Architect n Frederic Delongchamps is credited with designing over 500 buildings during his career. Among them were the Reno Main Post Office across from the courthouse, the original Riverside Hotel, the Supreme Court Building in Carson City and six other courthouses in Nevada and California. n Delongchamps was known to have changed his name early in his career to the French spelling Delonchant. Shortly after, he changed it back to the original spelling. The French spelling is noted on the original proposal (pictured right) and can be seen on the 1910 cornerstone. EXIT

18 The Restoration EXIT

19 The Restoration n Plans to restore the courthouse are extensive. The steps, entrance and columns that you see from Virginia Street are being cleaned and repaired to reveal the original limestone finish. The exterior air-conditioning ducts and other intrusive items that were later added to the structure for practical purposes will be removed. Finally, the outside and inside of the dome need cleaning and repair. Other restoration efforts are already visible. The original interior color scheme has been revived based on the colors in the mosaic tile on the second floor. The dome, grand staircase, columns, molding, chandeliers, light fixtures and ornate plaster work now look as DeLongchamps once intended at the turn of the century. But the restoration is farm from complete, and plans to return this historic building to the citizens of Washoe County are still in the early state. n In 1986, the Washoe County Court House was formally listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In 1999, The Washoe County Court House Historical and Preservation Society was formed to help return this historic structure to its original beauty and purpose for the people of Washoe County to enjoy. EXIT

20 The Restoration EXIT

21 The Restoration n The restoration is a challenge. There are only a few experts on restoring old buildings available, original material is sometimes difficult to locate and treatment of interior and exterior surfaces must be done properly so as not to accelerate deterioration. Thats why the Washoe County Court House Historical and Preservation Society is asking for donations and volunteers to supplement Washoe Countys restoration efforts. EXIT

22 The Restoration Timeline n 1848 The California Gold Rush Begins n 1860 Abraham Lincoln elected President of the United States n 1861 Nevada Territory established n 1862 Washoe County established n 1864 State of Nevada admitted to the Union n 1868 Transcontinental railroad reaches Truckee Meadows and Reno is established n 1871 Election - County Seat moved from Washoe City to Reno n 1872 Cornerstone for new courthouse laid in Reno EXIT

23 The Restoration Timeline n 1873 First Washoe County Court House completed n 1882 Reno Electric Light and Power Company begins service n 1903 First motion picture house is built in Nevada, The Vitagraph Theater in Reno n 1904 Carnegie Library opens northeast of the courthouse, First Municipal Railroad streetcar in Reno is built n 1907 New Riverside Hotel opens n 1910 Johnson-Jeffries boxing match is held in Reno n 1911 DeLongchamps courthouse completed, Theodore Roosevelt visits Reno EXIT

24 The Restoration Timeline n 1920 First airfield in Reno is built n 1927 Reno Arch built to help promote the Transcontinental Highway Exposition n 1931 Legislation on gaming & six-week divorce law in Nevada is passed n 1936 Harolds Club opens n 1942 Harrahs Club opens n 1945 Mapes Hotel-Casino opens n 1946 North Wing added to courthouse n 1949 South Wing added to courthouse EXIT

25 The Restoration Timeline n 1960 Winter Olympics held at Squaw Valley, USA, building used for publicity still stands across from the courthouse n 1963 West Annex added to courthouse n 1964 Interstate 80 opens as an all-weather highway between Reno and Sacramento n 1973 Eldorado Hotel-Casino is built n 1998 Restoration begins on the Washoe County Court House n 1999 Harolds Club is torn down n 2000 Mapes-Hotel Casino is torn down EXIT

26 Preserving our Heritage n As a non-profit organization, The Washoe County Court House Historical and Preservation Society is dedicated to preserving and restoring Renos most historic building. Along with the building, original documents, artifacts and art are being preserved and restored as well with the hope that one day, they can be displayed and enjoyed as part of our history. Through these efforts, we will promote awareness, appreciation and enjoyment of out courthouse by the public, and once again return the Washoe County Court House as a community treasure. EXIT

27 Preserving our Heritage n Perhaps more than any other public building, the county courthouses that are scattered across the great expanse of out state have come to stand as symbols of the yearning of Nevadas early settlers to build not just owns but communities. n Today, almost one third of the more than thirty Nevada courthouses built over the last 30 years have been destroyed. The destruction of these buildings marks a great historical loss for our state. Washoe County is fortunate to be left out of those historical casualties. EXIT

28 Preserving our Heritage n As part of restoration and maintenance, the ornate leaded glass that adorns the second story dome of the courthouse needs to be cleaned regularly by an expert. EXIT EXIT

29 Preserving our Heritage n Over the last 125 years, we have maintained our courthouse through foresight and respect for our heritage. Today, the Washoe County Court House is in need of repair and maintenance to reinforce it place as a unifying symbol of this community in the next century. n On June 22, 1872, a cornerstone was laid on the banks of the Truckee River that would soon become the new Washoe County Court House. Today, that cornerstone still exists under the limestone, helping secure the common thread that binds our fore bearers to ourselves and future generations yet to come. By doing our part, we can continue to preserve and maintain this beautiful historic structure. Please join us in the most worthy effort. EXIT

30 Preserving our Heritage n THE WASHOE COUNTY COURT HOUSE, c "If the wayfarer passing by the courthouse tonight shall notice the extra illumination, he need not speculate that the bondage has suddenly been removed from the eyes of justice, for it will mean but that the grand opening of the Washoe County Court House has arrived." - Nevada State Journal, June 1, EXIT

31 Thank You EXIT Thank you for taking the time to view this presentation. We hope you enjoyed the tour of the history of the Washoe County Courthouse.

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