County Jail (former) Improvements – Martinez CA

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In 1938, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) made improvements to the former Contra Costa County jail, which stands just behind the old courthouse (the present Finance Building) at 625 Court Street. 

According to a WPA Project Card from the National Archives, the work involved painting the interior and exterior of the jail and the project was approved for $14,888; but because the card appears to combine painting work at the jail with painting the Hall of Records (in the present Taylor courthouse), it is unclear how much was allocated to the jail.

The jail was constructed in 1901 and had its entrance on Pine Street. An annex was added in 1945 (Henderson 2014).

The city is considering tearing the building down, but its inclusion into the National Register of Historic Places is making the demolition process difficult (Weilenman 2015). The building stood empty behind fencing in early 2022. 

There is a new county jail next to the new courthouse building two blocks south.

Source notes

WPA Job Card, Fresno Public Library, San Joaquin Valley Heritage & Genealogy Center:

WPA Project No. 465-08-2-480, $14,888, Total Funds $18,785, App. Date 3-29-38, Average Employed 24, Federal Man-hours 15,295, "Improve County Jail and Hall of Records building in the city of Martinez, Contra Costa County, by painting interior and exterior, and performing incidental and appurtenant work. The jail does not and will not have facilities for the manufacture or production of goods. County-owned property. In addition to projects specifically."

National Register of Historic Places Listings in Contra Costa County, Wikimedia: (,_California), accessed November 11, 2018.

Kristin Henderson, "Historic Resources of Martinez CA" Henderson, Historic Resources of Martinez CA 2014" Nomination to National Register of Historic Places.

Donna Beth Weilenman, "Fate of old county jail in limbo", Martinez Tribune, September 17, 2015

Project originally submitted by Andrew Laverdiere on November 10, 2018.
Additional contributions by Richard Walker.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

Behind 625 Court St.
Martinez, CA 94553

Coordinates: 38.01898, -122.13389

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