Ventura County Courthouse

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Ventura County Courthouse
VenturaCountyCourthouse1 sm.jpg
Ventura County Courthouse is located in California
Ventura County Courthouse
Ventura County Courthouse is located in the US
Ventura County Courthouse
Location 501 Poli St., Ventura, California
Coordinates 34°16′57″N 119°17′32″W / 34.28250°N 119.29222°W / 34.28250; -119.29222Coordinates: 34°16′57″N 119°17′32″W / 34.28250°N 119.29222°W / 34.28250; -119.29222
Built 1912
Architect Albert C. Martin, Sr.
Architectural style Late 19th And 20th Century Revivals
NRHP Reference # 71000211
CHISL # 847
Significant dates
Added to NRHP August 19, 1971[2]
Designated CHISL 1971[1]

The Ventura County Courthouse, also known as Ventura City Hall, was designed in 1910 by one of the early pioneers of architecture in Southern California: Albert C. Martin, Sr. Noted for its gleaming terra cotta exterior, friars heads, and copper sheathed dome, his grand neoclassical design created one of the most beautiful civic structures in California.[3] Located in downtown Ventura, the building became the Ventura City Hall in 1972.[4]

Architecture and design[edit]

Domed skylight in courtroom ceiling on 2nd floor, with plaster detail, July 2008.

When Albert C. Martin's plans were unveiled in 1911, the Los Angeles Times reported that the "Roman Doric order" design would be "one of the most imposing public structures in California, and a credit to the seat of government of the prosperous lima bean section."[5] Built in 1912 at a cost of $225,000,[6] the courthouse was dedicated in July 1913. An outstanding example of neo-classical architecture manifested in Beaux-Arts style,[7] prevalent in public projects in the United States at the turn of the 20th century. The building is rich in details including a terra cotta facade with scrolls, floral designs, and whimsical faces of Franciscan padres, the order that founded the Mission San Buenaventura in 1782.[6] The original central courtroom, now the City Council chambers, features dark mahogany woodwork, a stained-glass skylight (pictured at left) and arched windows.[6]

Preservation and subsequent usage[edit]

In 1968, the courthouse was condemned as an earthquake risk, but the city bought the structure and spent $3.4 million to renovate it as Ventura's City Hall.[6] In June 1989, actor-director Jack Nicholson filmed "The Two Jakes" (sequel to "Chinatown") at the building.[6] In 1991, the Los Angeles Times said of the landmark structure: "Probably no local structure is more visually and symbolically dramatic, or as steeped in local legend. Perched like a lordly, lavish manor at the juncture of California and Poli streets, it overlooks the old town and the blue Pacific beyond -- a constant reminder of the past."[6]

Historic designation[edit]

Front view

The courthouse is registered as California Historical Landmark #847 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NPS-71000211). Added to the National Register in August 1971, it was only the second building in Ventura County to receive the designation. The City Council designated this building Historic Landmark Number 4 by resolution on February 11, 1974.[4]

Historic Context[edit]

Other buildings from this period of Ventura's history are nearby such as Judge Ewing Residence built in 1894 in the Queen Anne style.[8][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ventura County Courthouse". Office of Historic Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-10-15. 
  2. ^ National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  3. ^ City of Ventura "The Courthouse Architect: Albert C. Martin" Interpretive Panel located in Treasury office and posted on City Hall Centennial Official webpage. Accessed 7 November 2013
  4. ^ a b City of Ventura. Historic Landmark #4 accessed from link on City Map with Historic Landmarks
  5. ^ "Ventura County's Quarter-Million-Dollar Courthouse: Beautiful and Lasting; Lima-bean Seat of Government to Build a Capital for All Time, Fireproof and Artistic". Los Angeles Times. 1911-04-22. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Josef Woodard (1991-01-31). "Structures: A Solid History Ventura's landmark City Hall is a repository for lore of Southern California's colorful past". Los Angeles Times (Ventura County Edition). 
  7. ^ "Historic Walking Tour Guide: Downtown Ventura" (PDF). City of Ventura Community Partnerships Division. Retrieved 26 July 2012. 
  8. ^ Boyd-Barrett, Claudia August 8, 2014 "Ventura's historic Ewing house up for sale" Ventura County Star
  9. ^ City of Ventura. Historic Landmark #14 accessed from link on City Map with Historic Landmarks

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]