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Madera County government finally got a home

As cranes eased the granite block into place on the morning of Oct. 29, 1900, construction of the Madera County Courthouse began. It had been a long time in coming, and the people of Madera turned out in throngs to witness the setting of the cornerstone. After a seven-year vagabond existence, the seat of county government would finally have a place it could call home.

In 1893, when Madera County separated from Fresno County, its governmental offices were scattered all over town. The Board of Supervisors met in the Masonic Hall, which was then at 126 East Yosemite Avenue. Other offices were housed in the old Dworack Building, which later became the roller rink. All the while, the Superior Court of Madera County held its sessions in the upper story of the first Rosenthal-Kutner Building on the northwest corner of D Street and Yosemite Avenue.

Although this divided arrangement was to last for several years, dissatisfaction surfaced before the county reached its first birthday. The Board of Supervisors, feeling the need for a central location, delegated J.T. Ward of Berenda to attempt to negotiate a deal with E. McLaughlin for property upon which an honest to goodness courthouse could be built. The county’s representative ran into a brick wall.

In his report, Ward noted with regret McLaughlin’s intransigence. “Mr. McLaughlin refused to lend any assistance or reduce the price of Block C, part of the desired site. He stated that he had no interest whatever in the location of the proposed courthouse — does not care whether it is on the street or three miles out — and that he would not sell a block south of Yosemite Avenue under any consideration...

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