Mariposa County Courthouse in need of repairs

MARIPOSA, Calif.

This 158 year old building is the oldest courthouse still in use in California, and a key piece of Mariposa's past and present.

Leroy Radanovich said, "The importance of that building to this community is that Mariposa County Courthouse is our icon."

Radanovich is a local photographer and historian who co-wrote a book on the courthouse.

"The timbers that frame the building inside were hand hewn, and they're joined together by mortice and tennon, and wooden pegs that hold it all together," he said.

And the two story structure is literally filled with history. Many of the items in the courtroom are still the originals from 1854, including the judge's bench and also the juror's chairs.

But the building is showing its age. The county recently had it examined by a structural engineer who identified some issues.

Peter Rei, Mariposa County Public Works Director, said, "Namely there are some improvements with the clock, The clock is old, needs some repairs. The clock tower is leaning a little, needs some attention."

Rei says there were also concerns about cracks in the wooden trusses that hold up the building, but a closer inspection found no major issues.

"There are some general concerns that maybe we need to beef a few things up, but nothing that was of any significant concern that it was in danger for today," he said.

The county is working to hire another structural engineer to identify what must be done to keep the building safe in the future and if court proceedings will need to be temporarily re-located to make the repairs. Rei says about 250 thousand dollars is available from money paid by those who go through the court system. But it could cost more than a million dollars to make all of the changes.

Rei said, "I think there's a general agreement that the building is deserving of additional renovation and making it back to the crown jewel that it has been. The challenge will be where does that money come from?"

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