C. Clifton Young Federal Building and Courthouse

The C. Clifton Young Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse at 300 Booth Street opened in 1965 across the street from Reno High School. The building typifies the federal effort to incorporate modern design into the government buildings that were being designed by private firms. New guidance called for quality materials, flexible interiors, innovative elements, and public art.

In the early 1960s, Reno’s strong growth was causing a spike in land prices, particularly downtown. As a result, the General Services Agency (GSA), which provided management to federal buildings, selected the Booth Street site despite the need for improvements to Keystone Avenue and a new bridge over the Truckee River. Many community leaders had wanted the building to be located near the then-new city hall (now Terry Lee Wells Discovery Museum) on South Center Street. Mayor Bud Baker forced a re-evaluation of the location decision, but GSA prevailed.

The local architectural firm of Lockard, Casazza, Parsons & Associates designed the Young Building in the New Formalism style during the second wave of Modernism. This style emphasizes marble and granite, smooth wall surfaces, arcades, and projecting cornices. The firm also designed the Reno Sparks Convention Center, the Washoe County Administration Building, Laxalt Mineral Research Center, and Lawlor Events Center.

The Young Building is five stories tall, with a mechanical penthouse. Its exterior features overlapping rectangular volumes, flat roofs, metal frame windows, and integrated ornamentation. Particularly notable are the colorful aluminum grilles and blue porcelain panels.

Inside, the lobby walls are clad in marble with terrazzo flooring. A painting by Richard Guy Walton titled “Life Before the Pioneer Era” is installed flush with the wall opposite the entrance. The original woodwork inside the courtrooms, built-in furniture, drinking fountains, and mail chutes are still intact. Because it retains a high degree of integrity inside and out, this building is eligible for the National Register for Historic Places.

The GSA was one of the 31 agencies originally housed in the building. Its size enabled the government to gather together federal agencies previously scattered around Carson City and Reno, bringing efficiencies for citizens and for agency personnel who needed to work closely together. A state-of-the-art communications network (a telephone system and operators) connected this building with all other federal buildings. Upon its opening, many new occupants praised its spaciousness and abundance of natural light.

In 1988, Congress dedicated the building to C. Clifton Young, a Nevada native who had served as Public Administrator for Washoe County, as a representative to the state House and Senate, and as a state Supreme Court judge. Federal agencies still housed in the Young Building include the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, GSA, and U.S. Marshals.

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300 Booth Street, Reno, NV