Multnomah County’s central courthouse was built between 1909 and 1914, when the county had only 250,000 residents and long before modern building code standards for the region’s risk of earthquakes were in place.
Today, about three times that many people live in Multnomah County and the central courthouse gets heavily used each day, from judges to jurors to people paying their parking tickets. Greater demand from a much larger population, coupled with a century’s worth of use, means the courthouse has developed serious safety problems that no longer can be deferred.
Simply put, the existing central courthouse is structurally and functionally obsolete. The building doesn’t meet current seismic codes. There are also serious security concerns for the courts and the public, given the courthouse’s limitations on separating criminal defendants from judges and witnesses.
Multnomah County is committed to providing a safe and functional central courthouse and is making great progress toward constructing a new central courthouse. The new courthouse is scheduled to open in summer 2020 at the corner of SW Madison St. and SW First Avenue in downtown Portland. Please check this page frequently for updates on this project. Follow all the developments on Twitter.
Learn more about why Multnomah County needs a new central courthouse by going inside the current century-old courthouse in this video.