Filed Under Architecture

The Maricopa County Courthouse

Building A Municipal & County Infrastructure

The courthouse has served as the cornerstone of the justice system in Maricopa County since its construction in 1929.

The Maricopa County Courthouse and Phoenix City Hall stand on the same plot of land as the original courthouse, which was built in 1884. For more than 40 years, the original courthouse stood out as an architectural landmark in a city that was dominated at the turn of the nineteenth century by largely non-descriptive low-rise frame buildings.

The original 1884 courthouse was built using adobe brick and constructions methods, as was common at the time. Prior to air conditioning, adobe bricks, often made on-site, worked to cool buildings by spreading heat away from the buildings core. The original courthouse also had a clock tower, as did many nineteenth-century municipal buildings, to serve as a master clock for transportation systems--in this case Phoenix's early trolley system. 

As Phoenix boomed in the 1920s, civic leaders, including the judges who worked at the courthouse, questioned whether the courthouse was adequate to the many demands placed on it, including court functions, administrative offices, and a jail. In 1927, Maricopa County Voters endorsed constructing a new, more modern courthouse, and demolishing the original.  At the same time the City of Phoenix was busy planning its ambitious future, and sought a new City Hall as well. As a result of the vote, the City and County were able to merge their respective administrative apparatus into a single building the covered an entire block--along Washington Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues. The Maricopa County Courthouse and Phoenix City Hall opened in 1929.

The Maricopa County Courthouse gained national notice in 1963 with the criminal trial of Ernesto Miranda. His legal case against the State of Arizona progressed to the Supreme Court of the United States in 1966. The Miranda Rights law regarding self-incrimination arose as a result of this Supreme Court verdict. The Maricopa County Courthouse received its entry in the National Registry of Historic Sites in 1988 due to the magnitude of this court case.

edited 11/15/2019: mtt

Images

Postcard
Postcard The lush green grounds of the first Maricopa County Courthouse contrast with its red brick exterior. Source: Photograph/colorized postcard of the Maricopa County Courthouse in Phoenix (Ariz.), 97-2537.jpg, Print: VA4-1C51; PhD003, SG 12 Historical Photographs, RG 99 Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records, Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records. History and Archives Division Date: 1910
The first Maricopa County Courthouse
The first Maricopa County Courthouse Built using adobe constructions methods in 1884, the Maricopa County Courthouse administered justice in the Arizona territory, and later state, until county leaders and voters replaced it in 1927. Source: "Maricopa County Courthouse," McCulloch Brothers Inc. Photographs, CP MCLMB A503, Arizona State University Library. Creator: McCulloch Brothers Incorporated Date: 1922
Turn of the Century Courthouse
Turn of the Century Courthouse The Maricopa County Courthouse was built in 1884 when Arizona was still a territory. The first courthouse was replaced by a larger, more modern building in the 1920s. Source: "Photograph of the Maricopa County Courthouse in Phoenix (Ariz.)," RG 99 Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records, SG 12 Historical Photographs, 95-3537.jpg, Print: FJ2-12A13, Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records. History and Archives Division. Date: 1900
A New Courthouse
A New Courthouse The Maricopa County Courthouse re-opened in 1929 in new larger and more modern facilities. Source: Photograph of the Maricopa County Courthouse in Phoenix (Ariz.)., 95-3519.jpg, Print: FJ2-12A12, Negative: R2-2J23; PhD623, SG 12 Historical Photographs, RG 99 Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records, Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records. History and Archives Division. Date: 1930
Winnie Ruth Judd
Winnie Ruth Judd In a sensation 1932 trial, Winnie Ruth Judd was convicted of murdering her friends Agnes Anne LeRoi and Hedvig Samuelson. Judd dismembered the bodies and transported them in trunks via train to to Los Angeles where the crime was detected. She earned the name the "trunk murderess." Originally sentenced to death, Judd was found mentally incompetent and served her prison term in an asylum. In this photo Winnie Ruth Judd is shown with her husband William Judd at trial. Source: Winnie Ruth Judd with her husband in a courtroom at the Maricopa County courthouse in Phoenix, Arizona, AMP WRJ 035.jpg, PG 73 Winnie Ruth Judd, Arizona Historical Foundation. Date: 1932

Location

Metadata

Trevor Shackleton and Thomas Black, “The Maricopa County Courthouse,” Salt River Stories, accessed June 24, 2024, https://saltriverstories.org/items/show/104.