Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mariposa County Courthouse

Mariposa County – August 25, 2009

From Mormon Bar the Montero goes a mere two miles to the county seat town of Mariposa and the next landmark, the Mariposa County Courthouse. The white wooden two story Greek revival structure sits on a gentle slope like the principal focus of a small town movie set. It is the oldest courthouse west of the Rocky Mountains still in use, and though they talk about building something new from time to time, folks realize it still does a fine job serving this county of 18,000 after 157 years.

The wooden stove in the courtroom is ornamental these days as they've snuck in climate control, but everything else is original and functional. The judge's bench is unusually wide due to the fact they had three judges in earlier days. Decorations are kept simple; small portraits of Jefferson and Lincoln over the bench. Furnishings are oak or pine made to look like oak and the original structure was made without nails, using mortise and tenon construction. The white walls of the interior are hand planed pine and the floors creak as you walk along, but even here you'll be checked out with metal detectors at the entrance.

OAC photo cir 1885

Countless decisions have been made here and some of the most important were made in the courthouse's earlier days dealing with mine claims with decisions that meandered their way up to federal law. John C. Fremont eventually won a long fought case brought first to this court with the final judgment coming from the US Supreme Court regarding his mineral and land ownership of property obtained under Mexican rule.

Plaque inscription: NO. 670 MARIPOSA COUNTY COURTHOUSE (S) - This mortise-and-tenon Greek Revival courthouse, erected in 1854, is California's oldest court of law and has served continuously as the seat of county government since 1854. During the 19th century, landmark mining cases setting legal precedent were tried here, and much United States mining law is based on decisions emanating from this historic courthouse.
Location: 5078 Bullion St, Mariposa 95338  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places: NPS-91000560
GPS: 37.488821,-119.967404

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