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Supreme Court Building

Oregon Supreme Court Building: Historic beauty, modern safety and efficiency

The Oregon Supreme Court first convened in the Supreme Court Building on Feb. 14, 1914 — Oregon’s birthday. More than a century later, the three-story building in downtown Salem remains an important symbol of Oregon’s commitment to justice and the rule of law.

Located next to the Oregon State Capitol and surrounding grounds, the Supreme Court Building is a striking example of Beaux Arts style, a popular 19th-century French architectural style that incorporated Renaissance and Baroque elements with modern materials.

Ionic columns, arched windows, and a terra cotta exterior greet visitors as they approach the building. Inside the north entrance is a grand staircase adorned by a glass-feather sculpture added in November 2022 as part of a three-year modernization and seismic safety project.

The second floor features the State of Oregon Law Library with more than 51,000 legal texts, and the Supreme Courtroom sits on the third floor.

More than a century after its opening, the Supreme Court building mixes historic beauty and tradition with modern safety systems that will preserve and protect the structure for years to come.

Schedule a tour of the Supreme Court Building

Home to:

  • Oregon Supreme Court
  • State of Oregon Law Library and Publications
  • Appellate Commissioner’s Office
  • Appellate Courts Records

Historic distinctions:

  • Included on the National Register of Historic Places and the Oregon Historic Sites Database.
  • Oldest continuously operating government building on the Capitol Mall.
  • First documented use of terra cotta in Oregon outside of Portland.
  • Considered a premier example of Oregon State Architect William C. Knighton’s work in the Beaux Arts style.
  • Supreme Court courtroom includes a domed stained-glass canopy ceiling created by the famous Povey Brothers of Portland, Oregon — one of just three of their skylights still existing in its original location.
  • Raised mahogany bench in the Supreme Court courtroom includes numerous historic signatures of past justices inside the drawers.
  • Second historic building in Oregon to be upgraded with a base isolation system for earthquake safety.

Modern features:

The Supreme Court Building underwent a three-year seismic safety and modernization project, completed in November 2022. Updated features included:

  • Cutting-edge base isolation system to prevent severe building damage and injuries during seismic activity. Fifty-three base isolators (columns made of steel, concrete, and rubber) in the basement separate the building’s structure from its base, significantly reducing the amount of energy transferred to the building structure during an earthquake.
  • Restored original cork flooring in the courtroom, the Wallace P. Carson conference room on the second floor, and two offices.
  • Rugs designed and made for the building, using the design and colors of the Povey Brothers glass canopy ceiling in the courtroom.
  • A glass sculpture installation in the stairwell ("We Fly with Our Own Wings"), created by Michigan artist April Wagner, which includes more than 1,600 hand-blown glass feathers suspended on filaments.
  • Modern heating, cooling, electrical, technology, and plumbing systems.
  • LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, reflecting the building’s energy efficiency, health, and cost savings.

front entrance

Supreme Court Building front entrance on State Street

staircase with glass art

Historic curved staircase with glass feather art installation (“We Fly with Our Own Wings”), added in 2022

courtroom entrance

Entrance to the Supreme Court courtroom


Supreme Court courtroom


Supreme Court courtroom

stained glass ceiling

Stained glass canopy ceiling in the Supreme Court courtroom

base isolator

One of the base isolators in the basement that help minimize damage during earthquakes

first session of 1915 term

First session of the 1915 Supreme Court term, about one year after the building opened

supreme court with old capitol

Undated photo showing the Supreme Court Building next to the old Capitol Building, which burned down in 1935

supreme court circa 1943

Supreme Court Building circa 1943