Multnomah County seals Central Courthouse time capsule until 2120

December 14, 2022

This month, Multnomah County invited reporters and photographers to examine the contents of a time capsule that is now sealed in the new downtown Central Courthouse for the next century.

Time capsules tell an important story for future generations. The courthouse capsule holds numerous items that help tell the story of the last few years, including letters from Multnomah County judges, a judge’s robe and gavel, face masks, a COVID-19 test, notable front pages of the local newspaper, key press releases, photos of leaders involved in the courthouse project, and pictures of Portland’s empty streets during the earlier days of quarantine, as well as those taken during major demonstrations for racial justice in downtown Portland. The time capsule is set to be opened 100 years from 2020.

Members of the press had access to shoot footage and take pictures of the items. Key leaders of the $324 million courthouse’s construction were also on hand for interviews.

You can watch a new County video sharing the significance of preserving history and celebrating the new Central Courthouse construction through the voices of those who played a major role in the project.     

Multnomah County opened its new Central Courthouse during a historic time: the peak of a global pandemic and months of daily racial justice demonstrations. 

“The time capsule is an exciting, meaningful way for us to make sure that a record of the profound adversity that our community has endured over the last several years — and just as importantly, how we endured it — remain part of the fabric of Multnomah County's spirit and history,” Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said. 

The new Central Courthouse, located at 1200 SW 1st Ave., opened to the public in October 2020. It replaced the old central courthouse, which dated back to the early 1900s and was not up to current seismic codes. The old building also presented security concerns for the courts and public due to courthouse limitations in separating criminal defendants from judges and witnesses. 

Learn more about why Multnomah County replaced its century-old courthouse in this video.