History buffs and appreciators of architecture will adore the 1893 Old Orange County Courthouse which is open for self-guided tours. It was the very first building in Santa Ana and opened in 1897 as a jail. However, in 1990 it began to transition into a courthouse and became the most striking building in the area throughout the first half of the twentieth century. It took 17 months to turn into a courthouse and was ushered into the new century and Orange County in 1901.
Unsurprisingly, the courthouse has been a staple in a number of big cases including the ruling which gave California royalties for off-shore drilling easements. In 1947, the streets were flooded with hundreds of people to catch a glimpse of the defendants in the People v. Gollum and Overell case. The courthouse became a landmark in 1983 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Visiting the Courthouse
As part of the OC Parks System, the courthouse is open to the public, and you’ll find volunteers on site to answer questions. You can schedule group tours Monday through Friday, and the museum portion of the courthouse is open daily. It’s still a functioning courthouse with offices for marriage licenses, the OC archives, and hearing rooms for appeals.
Various wings of the courthouse are available for special events, and getting married at the Old Courthouse is very popular. Stop by for a museum tour, to explore the archives, or schedule your next event at this charming destination.