National Register of Historic Places in Inyo County

National Register #97001664: Inyo County Courthouse
17 February 2007
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National Register #97001664
Inyo County Courthouse
168 North Edwards Street
Built 1921

The Inyo County Courthouse, designed by architect William H. Weeks, is the only example of monumental Classical Revival public architecture in the Owens Valley, an area composed of both Inyo an Mono counties. The site planning represents the only local example of the City Beautiful approach to the siting of public buildings.

Classical Revival architecture was the style of choice for public buildings during the late 19th through the early 20th centuries, and the construction of grand public buildings of this nature are best understood as tangible statements of a community's maturity, optimism and positive expectations for the future.

It was precisely this local mood which was reflected by the construction of the Inyo County Courthouse at the peak of the area's economic prosperity and local autonomy. Soon after the courthouse was built, Owens Valley suffered a catastrophic reversal of fortune when water development policies adopted by the City of Los Angeles after 1924 led to the destruction of irrigated agriculture and the virtual depopulation of the Owens Valley.

Owens Valley was afforded only a brief glimpse of the sort of prosperity and community identity that would sustain the construction of grand public architecture.

Excerpted from the NRHP nomination submitted in 1997.

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