Multnomah County Courthouse

Multnomah County Courthouse
Multnomah County Courthouse

Multnomah County Courthouse
General information
Architectural style Neoclassical
Location 1021 SW 4th Ave., Portland, Oregon, USA
Current tenants County Courts, Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney's Office[1]
Cost $1.6 million
Design and construction
Architect Whidden & Lewis
Historic courthouse
Coordinates: 45°30′58″N 122°40′41″W / 45.51611°N 122.67806°W / 45.51611; -122.67806Coordinates: 45°30′58″N 122°40′41″W / 45.51611°N 122.67806°W / 45.51611; -122.67806
Built: 1911/1914
Visitation: 3000/day[1] (2011)
Governing body: Multnomah County, Oregon
NRHP Reference#: 79002136
Added to NRHP: 1979

Multnomah County Courthouse serves as the courthouse for Multnomah County, Oregon and its Sheriff's Office. It is located in downtown, Portland, Oregon, the county seat. It currently includes 39 courtrooms, 36 of which are district courts, two are traffic courts, and one used for forced eviction detainment.[1]


Multnomah County Courthouse was built in two phases between 1909 and 1914 at a total cost of $1.6 million; to make it fire-resistant, it was constructed of concrete-encased steel, with concrete slab floors and walls of terra-cotta brick, covered with plaster.[1] At the time, it was the largest courthouse on the west coast and served also as county seat and county jail.[1]

Originally, the building had a central courtyard, where prohibition-era confiscated alcohol was poured down a drain; over time, this courtyard was filled in to make room for more offices and a jury room.[2] The courthouse has four two-story courtrooms which feature most of the courthouse's original design; some two-story courtrooms were split horizontally during the 1950s, expanding capacity and resulting in new floors.[1]

Further renovation of the courthouse has been under consideration since at least 1970,[3] with studies starting in the 1990s also considering building a new courthouse.[1] It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.[1][3][4]

A February 2001 earthquake exposed weaknesses in the building's structure.[2] Plans for the addition of a new floor, the infill of the light well and a major seismic retrofit are under consideration; the plans would cost between $176–220 million (in 2011 dollars).[3]

See also

  • Architecture in Portland, Oregon
  • List of Registered Historic Places in Multnomah County, Oregon


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