LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Depression-era federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles was named a historic landmark today because of its importance in the annals of post-war civil rights history, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced.
The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California at 312 N. Spring St. was completed in 1940. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service in 2006.
The huge granite building — which also once housed a branch of the U.S. Post Office — was the site of the trial of the Mendez v. Westminster School District lawsuit filed in 1946 by five Latino families whose children were denied admission to public schools in Southern California.
The decision by the court forbade segregation on the grounds that separate was not equal, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said. It was the first court to declare that the doctrine of “separate but equal” ran counter to the U.S. Constitution, according to Salazar.
The federal courthouse “represents another thread in the great tapestry that tells the story of our beautiful land, our diverse culture and our nation’s rich heritage,” he said.
The General Services Administration has announced it will contract for a $400 million multi-story courthouse at First Street and Broadway to replace the existing federal court, which has security and asbestos problems.