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Building a New Courthouse

"This is the biggest project ever undertaken by the city and county governments together."

-- Harry Mendoza, Former County Commissioner


Scheduled for completion in October, 2004, the new McKinley County Courthouse, Civic Plaza and Veterans Memorial are the heralds of a revitalization process that began with community planning sessions.  The Courthouse Committee, headed by District Court Judge Grant Foutz, conducted a needs assessment and determined that county government had outgrown the original court house built in 1938.  They would need more space beyond remodeling the existing building.

The first vital decision was to keep the project downtown as part of Gallup's revitalization plans.  State representatives Lidio Rainaldi and Patricia Lundstrom drafted legislation enabling counties to impose a local tax for public infrastructure.  In a special election, the citizens voted in the tax.  "Only three counties so far have imposed the tax," says Harry Mendoza, County Commissioner.  The City Council agreed to construct the Civic Plaza. 

"I really like the fact that the architect decided to complement the historic courthouse."

-- Doug Decker, County Attorney

The historic McKinley County Courthouse at 201 West Hill Avenue was designed and built in 1938 by the architectural firm of Trost and Trost of El Paso, Texas, in the "picturesque" Spanish Pueblo Revival Style with typical stepped-back Pueblo massing.  The bell tower has battered walls and vigas.  Upper stories contain wooden caged projecting bays and stylized vigas, with vertical indentations allowing for windows.  Posts, wood beams and corbels define the main entry flanked by incised stucco Indian-motif reliefs. 

Inside the lobby, Indian motifs are featured in the tile wainscoting, lettered signs, pendant lighting fixtures, and Pueblo-style paintings on the plaster walls, all set off by hand-made wooden furniture and oil paintings by New Mexican artists. 

The second-floor court room has ten-foot murals depicting the history of McKinley County which were completed by Lloyd Moylan in 1940 and restored in 1991.

Outside, the twelve-foot steel Saltillo Rug sculpture was made in 1993 by Carolyn Milligan, Bill Mitchell and Jacques C. Tixier.  The sculpture represents a loom and Saltillo rug with the Saltillo pattern created by design elements cut out of the flat surface.  The Saltillo pattern represents the Hispanic influence in weaving that was introduced into the area in the 19th century.