The first building constructed in the historic Courthouse complex, and magnificently restored in 2005, the Hall of Records is a monument to sustainable architectural preservation. The historic landmark houses the recording of real estate and vital records (i.e. birth certificates), filings of fictitious business names and marriage services. You can get a marriage license and be married here by a County Clerk. (Divorces are NOT handled here.)
These unique doors contain a total of 30 panels. Albert Yann>
As shown in the Cast of Characters tour:
> executed the panels to capture California history, by hammering plates from the back side in a style called repoussé.
The interior of the original Hall of Records (right) reminded restoration architects of Moorish examples found in Marrakesh, Morocco. Features exemplified in the photo of the 19th century Bahia Palace in Marrakesh (left) provided the inspiration to move service areas to the perimeter, and create the atmosphere of an open courtyard, with palms growing in tiled planters.
(left photo © saiko3p / Shutterstock)
The renovated atrium area shows the results of the Marrakesh inspiration. The open center takes in light from the skylight above. Although the custom-carved furniture and artistic features take one back in time, the area makes full use of modern technology.
The upper floor houses more office space and the wedding balcony. The balcony is available only to wedding parties by appointment. If you look up, you might see a couple exchanging vows
The stenciled artwork on the beams and arches, like all the stenciling in the building, was done by John B. Smeraldi>. As shown in the Cast of Characters tour:
The original skylight was covered up in 1966 due to leakage and remained so until the 2005 restoration. During the restoration, the 128 glass panels were replaced and sealed, enabling illumination of the Hall of Records with natural light.
A whimsical detail is provided by the storage closet, which resembles a castle turret.
As you exit, you see the wood back of the copper-paneled doors. Each panel is covered in one of a pair of simple patterns: the eight-pointed star, and the eight-pointed flower. The eight-pointed star has symbolic meaning in many cultures. In Native American cultures, it symbolizes hope.
Photo Credits - Marie Morrisroe, William Espinosa, Scott Ehrnschwender
and Robert Dickey, except as otherwise noted.
Acknowledgements to County Architect Robert Ooley, FAIA,
Restoration Architect Britton Jewett, AIA and
County Clerk Recorder-Assessor Joseph E. Holland for the awe-inspiring restoration.
We hope you enjoyed your tour experience and we welcome your feedback. Please go to our feedback page.