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King County Courthouse

A landmark municipal building is celebrated with integrated artworks.

Linda Beaumont. Truth Crushed to the Earth Will Rise Again, 2005. Terrazzo, marble, cast glass, and etched glass. King County Courthouse, Seattle, WA. King County Public Art Collection. Photo: Spike Mafford

The King County Courthouse is a landmark building in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square district. Over the years, it has grown and changed to accommodate a booming population, advances in technology, and earthquake retrofits. Today the Courthouse remains a hub of government activity, housing the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of King County.

The Courthouse and adjacent City Hall Park constitute the oldest civic edifice in Seattle, recognized as a significant part of King County heritage by federal and local historic preservation programs, including the National Register of Historic Places. The original, five-story Courthouse was completed in 1916, followed by a second phase of construction in 1931 that added six floors. Midcentury renovations later modernized the aging structure with functional improvements but destroyed and obscured much of the beaux arts architecture. Then, in 1997, the King County Council approved a major rehabilitation plan that ultimately gave the building seismic stability and restored it to its former glory.

Now integrated artworks by Linda Beaumont and Douglas Cooper return the lobby to its grand original style. Reminiscent of those created by artists during the Works Progress Administration, Cooper’s murals tell a story of the region’s rich character. Beaumont’s marble and terrazzo floor celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as the County’s namesake.