When Captain Robert Gray landed at the ancient Indian Village of Chinookville on the north shore of the Columbia River in 1792 it was hard to imagine what was later to become Pacific County. Lewis and Clark camped in the same area and saw the Pacific Ocean from Cape Disappointment in 1805. Pacific County was established by the Oregon Territorial legislature on February 3, 1851. It was the third county created north of the Columbia River but it wasn’t until 1911 that the final construction of the Pacific County Courthouse was built.
Why groups should visit the Pacific County Courthouse:
- Once dubbed ‘The Gilded Palace of Extravagance’ groups will appreciate the craftsmanship in the beautiful glass dome
- Built in 1910 the courthouse is a registered national historic site
- Affordable activity, there is no admission fee and parking is free
- Indoor activity open year-round
- Wheelchair accessible
- On the drive to the courthouse groups will pass the scenic Willapa Bay
- 300 Memorial Drive, South Bend, WA 98586 approximately 42 miles / 54 minutes from Long Beach, Washington.
Stories to tell:
- In 1889 promoters came to South Bend and boomed the community. Advertised as ‘The Baltimore of the Pacific’, South Bend grew in population and soon demanded a vote to move the county seat. A vote was taken in 1892 designating South Bend as the county seat, but it resulted in a lawsuit which temporarily delayed moving day. South Benders, agitated by the apparent reluctance of County officials, took two steamers to Oysterville and forcibly moved the records in 1893. To learn more of the scandalous story behind the kidnapping of the county seat click here.
- To save on the building costs expensive marble was forsaken, a talented prison inmate was hired to paint murals and the cement columns on the second floor of the rotunda to look like marble
- The final cost of the building was $132,000 dollars in 1911
- Monday thru Friday 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM excluding federal holidays.
What to Know Before You Go:
- Reservations are not required for self-guided groups, however, tour operators requesting a guided tour should call ahead a few weeks prior to arrival. With advance notice of 2 to 3 weeks prior to arrival, it’s possible a current County Commissioner or former Commissioner could be on site to greet your group and personally give them a VIP guided tour.
- Though the courthouse is on the historic registry and welcomes groups for tours please note it is still a working courthouse. The courthouse is open Monday thru Friday with the court in session on Fridays. Groups are still welcome to visit on a Friday but official court business will be taking place and you may see law enforcement officers escorting inmates.
- The courthouse is wheelchair accessible. There are stairs leading to the second floor, an elevator is available but it is located in a different section of the building. Groups that have some members with mobility challenges that need to use the elevator will be separated briefly.
- Behind the courthouse, there is a pond with ducks and fish. Groups can walk out behind the courthouse after a tour to feed the ducks and fish. There is no fish food or duck food available for sale on site, groups must plan ahead and bring their own sack of bread prior to arrival.
- Plan on spending 90 minutes or less for self-guided tours. Plan on 2 hours for guided tours to allow for time for Q&A.
- Chen’s Restaurant, the Elixer has good coffee and overlooks the bay, offers indoor and outdoor seating.
What’s Nearby? What Can Groups Add-On:
- The Pacific County Historical Society and Museum is a small museum with local history and gift shop.
- Northwest Carriage Museum is in Raymond, a short 5 miles / 10-minute drive
- For group-friendly dining check out locally owned and operated Chen’s Chinese Restaurant. Also in the area is the Elixir with tea, coffee, scones and a bistro menu. The Elixir overlooks the bay and offers indoor and outdoor seating.
Contact Ragan Myers, Tourism and Events Coordinator at Long Beach Package Travel for complimentary concierge-style services with group dining, lodging, activities, step-on guides and more.