Saturday, March 25, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Two California Courts Get Landmark Status

(CN) - The U.S. Department of the Interior designated two California federal courthouses, one in San Francisco and one in Los Angeles, as national landmarks.

There were three other locations named Wednesday in addition to the James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse in San Francisco and the Spring Street federal courthouse in Los Angeles.

Browning, opened in 1905 as a courthouse and post office, currently houses the 9th Circuit.

The courthouse joined the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. Congress named the building for the late chief judge emeritus, James Browning, in 2004.

An earthquake-born fire damaged the courthouse in 1906, causing extensive structural damage, and the building closed its doors after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

Judges and city officials rallied support for the building's repair and restoration, and it reopened in 1996 following a $91 million seismic-improvements project.

Among several notable decisions levied at the courthouse, the 9th Circuit found a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional there in February 2012.

About 350 miles south in downtown Los Angeles, the Spring Street courthouse opened in 1940.

Also once home to a post office, it was the third federal building constructed in Los Angeles and joined the National Register of Historical Places in 2006.

The courthouse was the venue for the first ruling against public school segregation, Mendez v. Westminster School District in 1946, and the 1973 prosecution of Pentagon Papers source Daniel Ellsberg.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar also designated three other California sites as landmarks.

They are the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in Keene, the Drakes Bay Historic and Archeological District at Points Reyes Station, and the Knight's Ferry Bridge in Stanislaus County.

The designations bring the total number of national historic landmarks to 2,527, in addition to 592 sites that have been declared national natural landmarks.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.