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History of the Courthouse

Year

Events

1850

First Courthouse - Although there is a possibility that court first was held at the "Red Store" on the corner of Main and Church Streets, the first courthouse of record was the Eagle Hotel on Broad Street below the old Alpha Hardware and has since been obliterated by the freeway

1851

First Judge - T.H. Caswell elected as Nevada County’s first Judge.

1852

New Jail - The county entered into a contract with a Mr. Long for a jail on Broad St. for $1830. At the same time it purchased a plot of ground (across the street from the jail) for a new courthouse for $2,500." The wooden courthouse "and the log jail across the street from it were completed in 1852

1855

New Courthouse - A newspaper item notes the sheriff's sale of the Broad St. courthouse for $760, the building to be used as a post office. New courthouse and jail were being built at the intersection of Pine and Washington St.

1856

Fire - Both the old and new courthouses and jails burned in a terrible fire on July 19, 1856. While rebuilding of a third courthouse and jail was in progress at the Pine St. location, the county rented Hunt's Hall (Temperance Hall) on Sacramento St. for use as a district courtroom

1863

Fire - The courthouse and jail once again burned down in a fire on October 8. The County rents the Baptist Church for temporary courtroom and county offices. Blazes saloon on the corner of Pine and Commercial St. became the temporary meeting place for the Grand Jury

1865

New Courthouse - A new two-story courthouse was completed in March, 1865 at a cost of $46,400. The lower story was constructed much of granite, the upper of brick. The main entrance, now on Church St., was through an open arcade into a hall. On the right were offices for the tax collector, surveyor, recorder, and district attorney; on the left the county clerk and treasurer. Fireproof vaults were provided for the protection of the records. Rooms for the supervisors, trial juries, judges, and grand jury were upstairs with the courtroom. The sheriff's office was in the back part of the building, with an entrance from the main hall and a door opening to the courtroom. The jail was above ground with no entrance except through the sheriff's office. Cells of heavy boiler iron were provided for "desperate cases" and a separate section was designated for lesser offenders. In it's construction much of the building material was salvaged from the two predecessors, each of which was destroyed by fire.

1867

Voter Registration - 287 residents were registered to vote. Judge A.C. Niles rode through the county to register voters Explosion - An explosion of gas in combination with atmospheric air had taken place in the fire proof vault in the clerk's office. The 20 inch brick wall between the vault and office was standing out 5 inches. The window frames & lights were broken & the opening to the front of the courthouse was thrown out upon the lawn. The wall between the Clerk's office & the hall was standing out about 2 in. & the stair-way pushed in. The walls between the vault & the old Recorders office were considerably cracked & the whole building jarred. The door between the hall & clerks office was broken into fragment. The outer side frame of this door was driven across the hall thru the Recorders office. Amazingly, no county records were damaged.

1900

Remodel - A $33,743 remodel project was completed on 11/12/1900. This added a third story, removed the iron shutters and the graceful pillars

1936

Condemnation - Grand Jury condemned the jail. Afterwards, that facility was extended north into the space formerly used as a jail yard. At a cost of $10,000, reconstruction of the lower floor of the jail provided 10 cells, an exercise room, a new sheriff's quarters, a prisoners' visitor's room, and a large single cell for petty offenders. The second floor of the jail was constructed with "a cell block and two cells for juvenile offenders. The third floor was (constructed as ) the women's quarters, and a padded cell for mental cases.

1937

Remodel - Building modernized and enlarged to present size. The plaque on the courthouse lists the board of supervisors in 1937, the year of completion. They were E. B. Dudley, chairman, C.S. Arbogast, Frank J. Rowe, Joseph A. Frank, & Alex Robertson. R.N. McCormack was the clerk

1963

Construction - Nevada County Supervisors asks for sealed bids to construct an annex to the Nevada City location and to construct a Government Center in Truckee on Levon Avenue. Truckee had long had a county jail (prior to 1963). The stone block jail consisted of two stories, the first floor housing a small office, four cells and furnace room. The second floor contained the women's quarters of two small cells, accessible only by a narrow staircase originating near the furnace. Some 25 subcontractors, 1000 workers and 17 months later Nevada County had a new annex along with the Truckee site. The annex at the time doubled county space and became home to the current Superior Court.


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