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Marin County


Marin's first civic center was a converted group of adobe buildings situated in downtown San Rafael. A bond issue for a new courthouse was finally passed in 1872, and construction was begun. The new, Neoclassical courthouse accommodated all of the county offices for nearly a century. By the 1950s, the growth of the county, spurred since 1937 by the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, required the construction of a new complex. The county retained Frank Lloyd Wright to design the Marin County Civic Center, the famed architect's last project.

In 1956, the Board of Supervisors authorized the purchase of the 140-acre Scettrini Ranch, north of San Rafael, for development of a civic center and county fairgrounds.

On April 28, 1958, Wright’s plan for the Civic Center was approved by the Board of Supervisors by a four to one vote. Before his death on April 9, 1959, Frank Lloyd Wright completed concept drawings for all of the structures on the Civic Center campus, including the fairgrounds. The Marin County Civic Center was not only his last major design project but also the only government facility of his design that was ever built. Taliesin Senior Architect, William Wesley Peters and Bay Area architect, Aaron Green, both close associates of Frank Lloyd Wright, carried Wright’s vision for the Marin County Civic Center to completion after his death.

The four-story Administration Building, completed in the Fall of 1962, is 584 feet long. The Hall of Justice, completed in December 1969, is 880 feet long and the bays on both sides of the building are over 40 feet wide. In the courtrooms, spectators sit in curved rows and a curved table serves attorneys in jury trials. A lectern in the middle of the well permits judge and jurors a clear view of the witnesses and attorneys arguing a case. Their design represents a break with traditional courtroom design and has been emulated in other venues.


Frank Lloyd Wright's Concept for the Marin County Civic Center.
Reproduced from the Cover of the Administration Building Dedication Brochure, 1962

Scettrini Ranch: Site of the Future Marin County Civic Center
Photograph by John Trimble. Harold Stockstad Slide Collection, Anne T. Kent California Room

Detail from an early scale model of the Civic Center
Frank Lloyd Wright originally wanted a gold roof color which would echo the gold of the Marin County Hills.
Photograph by John Trimble. Harold Stockstad Slide Collection, Anne T. Kent California Room

The Administration Building upon Completion.
Photograph by Karl H. Reik, originally published in the Civic Center Dedication Brochure, 1962.

Hall of Justice, 1971 with Administration Building to the right.
Photography by Lewis W. Stewart


Below are some interesting links about Marin County and Terra Linda
(If you know of other links that you would like added here, please send an email to Ava.)

Official Map of Marin County

Marine Nostalgia 

Highlights of Marin's History from 1850 to 2010

The History of Terra Linda - Don Timoteo Murphy: Days of the Earliest Rancho - by Jean Wasp, Terra Linda News p. 10 April 23, 1973

Terra Linda Wind Newsletter- by the Santa Margarita Neighborhood Assocation:

Weekend Sherpa - Find unique ways to enjoy Northern California!"

Marin County Directory

About Marin County

San Rafael Illustrated & Described 1884