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[graphic] Three Historic Nevada Cities Carson City, Reno, Virginia City A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary
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[photo] Washoe County Courthouse
Photo by Charles Miller, Courtesy of Nevada State Historic Preservation Office
This courthouse was the third for Washoe County, established in 1861 as one of the original nine counties in the Nevada territory. Myron Lake donated land in 1871 for the first Reno courthouse, in anticipation of Reno wresting county seat status from Washoe City some 20 miles to the south. The original Reno courthouse, built of red brick in 1871-1873, still stands as an internal component of the building we see today. In 1909, Frederic DeLongchamps won the design competition for the new courthouse, the first solo commission of his career. The building is Classical Revival with Beaux Arts influence, featuring decorative elements in terra cotta. A copper dome with ribs ending in fanciful brackets crowns the courthouse. The building's interior includes an American Indian mural by Robert Caples at the main entrance and two Hans Meyer-Kassel oils under the stained glass dome on the second floor.

[photo] Historic postcard of Washoe County Courthouse
Courtesy of Joy Fisher, USGenWeb Penny Postcard Collection

During the 1930s, when divorce was the primary industry for Reno, nearly 33,000 divorces were granted in these courtrooms. Famous Life Magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstadt took a photograph of a young woman kissing one of these pillars. The posed picture appeared on the front cover of the June 21, 1937, edition of Life. Additions have been made to the Courthouse in 1946, 1949 and 1960. Frederic DeLongchamps designed each of the additions. The courthouse has been restored with assistance from the National Park Service's Historic Preservation Fund grants. Courtroom No. 1, the scene of action during Reno's divorce heyday, is currently undergoing restoration.

The Washoe County Courthouse is located at 117 South Virginia St. in Reno. It is open to the public, Monday-Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm.
[graphic] Footer with three essays
 [graphic] link to Carson City Essay
[graphic] link to Reno Essay [graphic] link to Virginia City Essay

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