AKA: Ventura County Courthouse #2, Ventura, CA; City of Ventura, City Hall #3, Ventura, CA
Structure Type: built works - public buildings - capitols
Designers: Fisher and Wilde Architects (firm); Macleod Construction Company (firm); Martin, Albert C., Sr., Architect (firm); Theodore Fisher (architect); Kenneth G. Macleod (building contractor); Albert Carey Martin Sr. (architect); Wilde (architect)
Dates: constructed 1912-1913
This Neo-Classical, two-story courthouse served as the Superior Court of CA's base of operations in Ventura County from 1913 until 1968. In 11/1968, authorities deemed the courthouse seismically unsafe, and the City of Ventura stepped in to rehabiliate the structure, using it to the present.
Prolific Los Angeles architect A. C. Martin, Sr., (1879-1960) obtained the commission to design the courthouse in 1910, and worked with the Los Angeles Planing Mill Company as his general contractor. Martin would collaborate with this firm on other projects, such as the Higgins Building in Los Angeles. The state court utilized the building from 1912 until 1968, when it was condemned as seismically unsafe. The City of Ventura chose to purchase the stately structure and and spent $2.7 million renovate it into its City Hall. This opened in 1972.
On its web site, the City of Ventura said of the court house architect, A.C. Martin, Sr.: "Albert C. Martin, now considered a legendary Los Angeles architect, was only 31 and in business for himself just two years when Ventura County selected him in 1910 as architect for its second courthouse. But he had deep ties to Ventura County, married to a local girl, Carolyn Borchard, and eight years of experience building large reinforced structures since getting his Architectural Engineering degree from the University of Illinois at Champaign. He combined knowledge of structural steel from previous jobs at the Ketcham Iron Works of Indianapolis, Pennsylvania Railroad Co., and Cabria Steel (now U.S. Steel Corp. in PA) with 'close application to detail and originality of design' working for several major Los Angeles architectural firms." (See City of Ventura, "The Architect,"
Architect Ted Fisher of the Ventura-based firm, Fisher and Wilde, worked on the remodeling of the Ventura County Courthouse into the Ventura City Hall c. 1970, collaborating with the Los Angeles interior design firm of Cannell-Chaffin and the MacLeod Construction Company of Ventura. The City of Ventura spent $145,000 to acquire the former courthouse, which would accommodate 120 city employees. The new city hall expanded square footage available for city use to about 49,000 square feet, from the previous Santa Clara Street facility containing 12,240. A contemporary Los Angeles Times article discussed the rehab work: ""The City Council chambers will be in the old courtroom No. 1 where many famous trial have been held. To make the building safe in earthquakes, sheer walls have been installed from floor to ceiling, and about 2,100 gallons of epoxy glue pumped into voids. The contractor for this [seismic work] was Warner Construction Co., Los Angeles. About 40% of the old terra cotta tile had to be replaced. New tile, to duplicate the old, has been fashioned by Interpace Company at Lincoln, Calif. and shipped to Ventura. The same company made the original tile. More than 2,000 tons of old pipes, wiring, loose bricks and other debris had to be removed from the building before renovation could begin, contractor Ken MacLeod said." (See "Courthouse/City Hall Conversion Proceeds," Los Angeles Times, 06/24/1973, pt. V, p. 6.) To help off-set the upgrade costs, the City of Ventura obtained two historic preservation grants, one for $450,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the other a $150,000 allotment from the Economic Development Administration. As the article mentioned, the building was meant to accommodate the city government until 1990 or when the city reached 100,000 inhabitants.