At the corner of Bateman Street and North Main Street (Route 50) in Eureka, Nevada, is a beautiful building that has been the seat of justice in Eureka County for nearly 140 years.
The original Eureka County Courthouse, on that same site, was made out of a former ice-skating rink donated by a judge shortly after Eureka County was established in 1873. Like many of the buildings in the town of Eureka, it was made of wood, and when a fire destroyed hundreds of its fellow wooden structures, plans were made to replace it with something that would not be so vulnerable.
Three designs were submitted, and George F. Costerisan’s Italianate version ended up incorporating elements from the other two for the final product. Construction was begun in 1879 and finished in 1880.
The façade features five bays separated by brick pilasters that lead up to a metal-bracketed cornice, with the door in the center on the first floor and a small wooden balcony in the center on the second floor. The front door is flanked by two bells, one from Cincinnati, Ohio, the other from San Francisco, California, which once functioned as the town’s fire alarms.
The courtroom is on the second floor, and is considered one of the best-preserved public spaces in the state, with a 100-seat suspended gallery and pressed-tin ceiling. The judge’s bench and balustrade are Spanish cedar, and the witness box is unique for being semi-circular in shape and located in directly front of the judge’s bench.
In 1995, the building was renovated and brought up to code. The foundation was stabilized and the façade and interior woodwork (which had to be removed during construction for its protection) were refinished. The most notable structural change is the protrusion of the front door, caused by the addition of a vestibule just inside.