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Nevada Commission on Tourism (U.S. Federal Courthouse and Post Office)

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U.S. Federal Courthouse and Post Office
1888–1891, Mifflin E. Bell, Will Freret, James Windrim. 401 N. Carson St.
  • Nevada Commission on Tourism (U.S. Federal Courthouse and Post Office) (Julie Nicoletta)
  • Nevada Commission on Tourism (U.S. Federal Courthouse and Post Office) (Bret Morgan)

The only example of the Richardsonian Romanesque style in the state, this imposing brick and stone building commands attention. Planned and built under the administrations of three supervising architects of the U.S. Treasury Department, the structure reflects the style favored by the department for its buildings throughout the nation in the last two decades of the nineteenth century. Its impressive appearance attests to its significance as the state's first federal courthouse. In 1886 the federal government purchased the lot and demolished the town's opera house on that site. Upon completion, the new structure contained a post office, land office, weather bureau, and federal courts. The courts moved to Reno in 1965, and the post office was relocated in 1970 to a new federal building two blocks away. The state acquired the property for its library, which remained in the building until the opening of the new State Library behind the capitol in 1993. The building now houses the Nevada Commission on Tourism.

Dark red brick walls and asymmetrical massing characterize the structure, which stands on a granite foundation emphasizing its robustness. A four-story clock tower at the northwest corner rises high above the street. Horizontal bands add depth to the building's surface and counteract its verticality by delineating the separate levels of the structure. Carved sandstone capitals and lintels over the windows provide accents to the brick surfaces. An arcade of four arches resting on square columns leads to the recessed entrance.

Inside, Corinthian columns support the ceiling of the first floor. The courtroom was on the second floor at the east end. Its 20-foot-high ceilings, the tallest in the building, emphasize the room's importance. The building's long use has resulted in many alterations to the interior spaces.

Writing Credits

Julie Nicoletta


What's Nearby


Julie Nicoletta, "Nevada Commission on Tourism (U.S. Federal Courthouse and Post Office)", [Carson City, Nevada], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Nevada, Julie Nicoletta. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, 106-107.

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