AKA: United States Government, United States District Court, 9th Circuit, Southern District, Courthouse #1, San Diego, CA; Weinberger, Jacob, Courthouse Building, San Diego, CA

Structure Type: built works - public buildings

Designers: Sessions, Kate O., Landscape Designer (firm); Taylor and Wenderoth, Architects (firm); United States Government, Department of the Treasury, Office of the Supervising Architect, Taylor, James Knox (firm); Kate Olivia Sessions (landscape designer); James Knox Taylor (architect); Oscar Wenderoth (architect)

Dates: constructed 1911-1913

view all images ( of 2 shown)

325 West F Street
San Diego, CA 92101-6017

OpenStreetMap (new tab)
Google Map (new tab)
click to view google map
Google Streetview (new tab)
click to view google map


The long-anticipated completion of the Panama Canal in 1914 injected new energy into San Diego's economy. By 1906, federal officials envisioned that the city's port would become crowded with ships visiting the United States' southernmost Pacific Coast port of call. In that year, Congressional funding was passed to build a new facility to house a new central San Diego US Post Office, the US District Court, and the US Customs Service. While the money was first appropriated in 1906, the federal government had a huge backlog of new facilities to build as its regulatory functions expanded during the early twentieth century. This expansion was fueled particularly after the imposition of the Federal Income Tax in 1913. The combined San Diego post office/customs house/courthouse was completed in 1913, one year before the canal was finished.

Building History

While the US Congress passed a $250,000 appropriation for a new multipurpose Federal office building for San Diego in 1906, construction work did not begin until 1911. Supervising Architect of the US Treasury James Knox Taylor (1857-1929) advertised for construction bids in periodicals in 05/1911 for the the "construction (including plumbing and ventilation, gas piping, heating apparatus, electric conduits and wiring)" of the U.S. Post Office and Custom House at San Diego. (See "Proposals," Western Contractor, vol. 20, no. 539, 05/10/1911, p. 27.) The noted San Diego landscape designer Kate O. Sessions was contracted to layout the landscaping around the building, athough plantings on the south side were partially dug up in 1917 by the postmaster to put in a "victory garden" during World War I.

The building accommodated the US Post Office, Customs House and US Distr ict Court from 1913 until 1938, when the post office moved into its own dedicated space. At this time, it accommodated the US District Court, US Customs Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and other federal departments. By 1961, the courts became the primary occupant of the renamed "The United States Courthouse." The newly designated Southern District of California, formed in 1966 to encompass San Diego and Imperial Counties, became a prime tenant. The construction of a nearby highrise in 1976 housed courts, offices and other legal spaces, greatly enlarging this federal complex. As a result, judges and administrative staff were removed from the 1913 United States Courthouse, leaving it vacant. It stood unused for about 18 years before it was rehabilitated.

Building Notes

National Register ID Number: 75000468; GSA Building Number:CA0088ZZ.

The US Post Office in San Diego had several WPA Federal Art Project murals, including those entitled "San Diego Harbor," painted by an unknown artist (1935), "Gateway to the Desert" by Esther Barney (1934), and "San Diego Mural" by Belle Baranceau (1934).


The US Government supplemented 4,000 square feet to the building in 1928.

Courtroom alterations were made during the 1940s and 1950s. Judge Jacob Weinberger (1882-1974), for whom the building was dedicated in 1988, dedicated a new courtroom in 1956.

The extensive interior renovation undertaken by the GSA and completed on 04/22/1994. At this time, the U. S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of California became the building's primary occupant. The restoration won several awards, including those given by the American Institute of Architects, California Chapter and the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA). The latter group named the courthouse its Historical Office Building of the Year award winner for 1995-1996.

National Register of Historic Places (Listed 1975-01-29): 75000468 NRHP Images (pdf) NHRP Registration Form (pdf)

PCAD id: 3050