Federal Courthouse – Los Angeles CA


“The U.S. Courthouse, built between 1937 and 1940 as the U.S. Post Office and Court House, was the third federal building constructed in Los Angeles. The first, constructed between 1889 and 1892, housed the post office, U.S. District Court, and various federal agencies, but it soon proved inadequate. A larger structure was built between 1906 and 1910 at the corner of Main and Temple Streets. The population of Los Angeles grew rapidly in the early part of the twentieth century, and a larger building was needed to serve the courts and federal agencies. The second federal building was razed in 1937 to clear the site for the existing U.S. Courthouse.

Construction1938Gilbert Stanley Underwood was selected to design the building as consulting architect to the Office of the Supervising Architect of the Treasury Department. The actual plans were prepared by the Supervising Architect’s Office. Underwood was acclaimed for his public architecture. His work includes lodges in National Parks, over two dozen post offices, a number of federal courthouses, and the magnificent U.S. Mint in San Francisco.

DoorThe original plan specified a fifteen-story building. Even before construction began in May 1937, the Treasury Department realized two more floors would be needed. Congress did not appropriate the additional funding until the initial fifteen-story building was finished in January 1939. The building’s top two stories and penthouse were added between April 1939 and March 1940. At the time of its completion, it was the largest federal building in the western United States. It employed 122 men for 7 months.

stairrailsThe post office, located on the ground and first floors, moved to another site in 1965. The expanding U.S. District Court then took over the space.”

The courthouse contains several New Deal murals and sculptures (see linked project pages on this site).

Source notes


Project originally submitted by Andrew Laverdiere on June 3, 2013.

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


Location Info

312 North Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Location notes:
Was originally built to serve as both a post office and a courthouse.

Coordinates: 34.055205, -118.241422

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