Historical San Mateo County Court House in Redwood City

Historical San Mateo County Court House in Redwood City

Historical San Mateo County Court House in Redwood City used daily by citizens of Redwood City. Their use is of the courtyard area for art, music, film, and dance. It is the place to hear weekly concerts during the summer months. With the Climate Best By Government Test the weather is favorable to longer summers than other parts of America. In the winter ice skating provided on surfaces that do not need ice. Amazing.

The historical San Mateo Court House in Redwood City has had three different Court Houses on the site at 2200 Broadway in Redwood City.  One of the pioneers of Redwood City, S.M. Mezes, and the Arguello family in 1858 donated to San Mateo County the property for the Court House.

Razed in 1903, the original Court House vied for approval and plans for the new County Court

Courthouse 1906
After Earthquake of 1906 Historical San Mateo County Court House in Redwood City

House.  The commission for the work was given to Dodge and Dolliver, two local architects.  After construction of the new County Court House lasting  three-years the County was ready to occupy the building.

In April of 1906 the County of San Mateo was preparing to move to the new facilities. Being able to occupy the building was a three dream for all the county workers.  On April 18, 1906 the earthquake hit California and destroyed the new County Court House.  All that remained was the frame-work for the Rotunda.  You may remember this earthquake as being more commonly known as the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906.

The building was almost totally ruined. Some framing, dome, and salvageable materials was all that remained.

Court House Rotunda
Rotunda in Historical San Mateo County Court House in Redwood City


The County commissioned a new architect by the name of Glenn Allen to rebuild the County Court House.  Mr. Allen kept some of the earlier designs that Dodge and Dolliver used, but added some of his own design too.  The result was a building of Renaissance-Baroque design that centered in an inviting park plaza.

The materials used on the exterior were: Green Colusa Sandstone, sheet copper cornices as well as sheet copper on parts of the Rotunda.

The charm and beauty of the County Court House lies within its interior. Walking inside is pure joy of the uniqueness of the interior.  There are mosaic floors, bronze lamps with eagles, cast iron balustrades, wonderful aged oak benches, green marbled terra-cotta pillars with gold eagle volutes capitals, and exceptional stained glass skylightsin the Rotunda. You will find many of these same

Court House 1930
Court House 1930 Historical San Mateo County Court House in Redwood City

features in “Court Room A”.  “Court Room A” ,beyond other things, was the court room scene used in the filming of Mrs. Doubtfire”. We sort-of have a movie star in our mist here in Redwood City.

During the depression President Franklin D Roosevelt in his New Deal start a WPA Federal Program, which put people back to work.  Some of the work the WPA did was to add two modern annexes to the Court House.  When WPA added the two new modern annexes the main portico didn’t  fit flush to the existing building were removed.  The western and eastern facades remained untouched from their original appearance.  Also the Rotunda was left in tact.

Courthouse 1960
Historical San Mateo County Court House in Redwood City in 1960


In 2005, the demolition by the County started on the structures of the 1939 WPA annexations.  In 2006 they started construction the entrance façade to its original appearance happened. The “Old” San Mateo County Courthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places.


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