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Stories from the valley

My Favorite Building in the Sacramento Valley

Contributed by Steve Beckley

The Colusa County Courthouse is one of my favorite buildings in the Sacramento Valley.  Built in 1861, this Federal/Classic Revival style building is the oldest courthouse in the Sacramento Valley and second oldest in California. The Southern style reflects some of the county’s early heritage.  During a recent visit to Savannah, GA, I was struck by the similarity between the courthouse and some of the buildings there, especially the First Baptist Church which is Greek Revival style. A statue of George Washington stands in the entrance hall of the building, a gift to the county recognizing the donations of local citizens to the construction fund for the Washington Monument in the nation’s capital. I featured a picture of the courthouse taken in December 2015 with its holiday lights on my 2016 Christmas card.

I recently stopped by the courthouse and was given a tour of the building by Wendy Tyler, the Colusa County Administrative Officer.  One of the most beautiful rooms is the Superior Court Room on the second floor. I always have been impressed by the marble floors and beautiful wood work. I also visited the Hall of Records which is in the new part of the building having been constructed in 1914 and connected to courthouse in 1949.  Rose Gallo-Vasquez, County Clerk and Recorder showed me my original birth certificate.

One thing great about small towns is that you will run in to somebody that can help you with the story you are doing.  I visited with former Colusa County Supervisor Christy Scofield who was on the board when the courthouse was rededicated to the People of Colusa County in November 2002 after retrofits and refurbishment. Also, additional work was completed in September 2005 on the building.  Christy messaged me later that day saying she had an original brick from the building.

The grounds around the courthouse are beautiful with flowers and wonderful landscaping, also benches and a gazebo.  The trees on the grounds are one of the defining characteristics of the lot it is on.  Unfortunately, the Board of Supervisors had to make the tough decision in 2015 to remove five diseased American Elms. Whenever I put up a recent picture of the courthouse on social media someone always comments on the trees missing.  When a tree is cut down it hurts, but the new look certainly makes for better photographs of the building.

The building is also a movie star having been featured in several movies including …tick…tick…tick… and To Kill a Mockingbird.  For those in the Colusa area and take the building for granted, slow down and take a look at this community treasure.  If you are just passing through, stop and visit the courthouse and see why it is a special place. One of the best places to view the courthouse is from Caffeinated across Market Street from the building.  Get a coffee, a window seat and watch the world go by.