It was a surreal little pocket of normalcy in the very heart of chaos. Work crews on 4th Street were still piling rail flat cars high with debris, even as shop keepers with horse-drawn wagons were jostling to bring in corrugated iron sheets and lumber to build ramshackle stores. And right next to it all, on the fringes of the grounds of the fallen courthouse, were men quietly sitting at desks in the open air, ready to collect your taxes, ready to stamp your deed, ready to marry you. Welcome to post-earthquake Santa Rosa, 1906.

The town's city hall briefly operated from the ad-hoc business center cobbled together at a vacant lot on Mendocino, but soon moved to the sidewalk in front of their old digs on Hinton, across from courthouse square. Note the large jug under the table, which presumably held water. (Detail of image courtesy California Historical Society. Click to enlarge)

These casual arrangements were not without their benefits, as a couple discovered they could drive right up to a judge in their car and be married on the spot.

Temporary Courthouse

The Supervisors have decided to erect temporary county buildings on the plaza lawn. Permission was granted by the City Council very willingly yesterday afternoon. Work will begin at once. Plans will be prepared for new permanent buildings without delay.

- Democrat-Republican, April 25, 1906

Pretty Ida Wassaman Rides to Altar in a "Chug Chug" Machine

An automobile whizzed up to Justice Atchinson's court in the tent on Hinton avenue Monday afternoon bearing a pretty bride-to-be to her marriage. She was Miss Ida Wassaman and her wedding to Wesley Buleis was performed by Justice Atchinson in the presence of relatives and friends.

- Press Democrat, September 11, 1906


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