C. Clifton Young Federal Building and Courthouse

The modern 1965 building housed numerous federal agencies.

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.

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. The building was listed in the National Register for Historic Places in 2021.

Images

C. Clifton Young Federal Building, 2014
C. Clifton Young Federal Building, 2014 The building adds a burst of color to Booth Street. Source: waymarking.com Date: 2014
The building in 1965
The building in 1965 The C. Clifton Young Federal Building and United States Courthouse as it appeared in 1965. Source: U.S. National Archives Date: 1965
Multicolored grilles
Multicolored grilles Decorative multicolored metal grille work composed of rectangles, squares, and lines tops the main entry. Creator: Gail Ewart
Life Before the Pioneer Era
Life Before the Pioneer Era Richard Guy Walton was a prolific painter and photographer whose subjects ranged widely from the stark Nevada desert, his Comstock neighbors, and ineffectual politicians, to studies of spatial issues that usually intrigue mathematicians. Creator: Gail Ewart
Cliff Young
Cliff Young In addition to his government service, C. Clifton Young was active in civic organizations and was a long-time supporter of the National Wildlife Foundation, serving as its president for a time. Source: University of Nevada Oral History Program

Location

300 Booth Street, Reno, NV

Metadata

Gail Ewart, “C. Clifton Young Federal Building and Courthouse,” Reno Historical, accessed May 24, 2024, https://renohistorical.org/items/show/206.