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The Original Fresno County Courthouse

Fresno County Courthouse, circa 1960. -- Courtesy of Fresno Historical Society

Fresno County Courthouse, circa 1960.

Courtesy of Fresno Historical Society

Fresno County District Attorney C.G. Sayle boldly declared in 1874 that the new Fresno County Courthouse would be “the grandest and noblest edifice that has ever been planned and contemplated in [the San Joaquin] valley," and "when completed, is expected to stand the storms of winter and the heat of summer, for the period of 1,000 years or more.”

Completed the following year, the building was indeed grand, and made even moreso following expansion in 1893, but the promises of its longevity fell short.

The Fresno County Courthouse being razed in 1966.  -- Courtesy of The Fresno Bee

The Fresno County Courthouse being razed in 1966.

Courtesy of The Fresno Bee

 

In the 1960s it was deemed incapable of withstanding a strong earthquake, like the 7.5 magnitude tremor that hit Kern County in 1957, and officials overcame strong opposition to order the construction of a new courthouse. The old courthouse was razed in 1966 and replaced by a modern low-rise. 

The loss of such a beautiful and historic building remains a sore subject for many Fresno natives.

Fresno’s downtown skyline from a spot south of the Convention Center, 1968. Behind the convention complex can be seen, from left, the Hotel Californian, Security Bank Building, Fresno Guarantee Building, Del Webb’s Towne House, the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Building and the new Fresno County Courthouse. -- Courtesy of The Fresno Bee

Fresno’s downtown skyline from a spot south of the Convention Center, 1968. Behind the convention complex can be seen, from left, the Hotel Californian, Security Bank Building, Fresno Guarantee Building, Del Webb’s Towne House, the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Building and the new Fresno County Courthouse.

Courtesy of The Fresno Bee

Read more about the courthouses at the blog of Fresno Bee photographer John Walker and find these and many more historic images in the Bee's new pictorial history book, Volume II: Fresno Memories!

Volume II: Fresno Memories: The 1950s, '60s and '70s Cover
The Fresno Bee presents Volume II: Fresno Memories: The 1950s, '60s and '70s

$39.95

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