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Lake County Historic Courthouse Museum

255 N Main St, Lakeport, California 95453 USA

“Historical Artifacts and Native American history”

The Historic Courthouse Museum is Lake County's premier museum of county and Native American history. It houses many historical artifacts and documents that represent the history of Lake County and specifically Crown Point. The museum encompasses approximately 6,000 square feet with collections of clothing, military uniforms, Native American artifacts, tools, photographs, and documents representing every city and town in Lake County. While the historic two-story structure served as the courthouse from 1871 to 1968, it required a total of four elections to determine just where the county seat would be located.Shortly after the County of Lake was created on May 20, 1861, an election was held to decide if Lakeport (then known as Forbestown) or Lower Lake (then known as Grantville) would serve as the county seat.Lakeport won the election and a two story wooden courthouse was erected on the site of the present Courthouse Museum. This portion of a 40-acre parcel of land was owned and donated to the county by William Forbes.Shortly after county government operations began, dissatisfaction with Lakeport as the county seat mounted, and a second election was called in April 1864.  This time Kelseyville (then known as Kelsey Creek), was added to the list; but Lakeport, again, was selected by the voters.Despite two elections, the dissatisfaction continued during the next two years and finally a “third and final election” was set for September 1867, with only Lakeport and Lower Lake on the ballot.The election of 1867 proved “hot” in more ways than one.  After the legislation calling the election was passed in 1866, the courthouse was destroyed by fire and all of the county’s records except for one book were lost. The first results showed Lakeport with 378 votes and Lower Lake with 365, but the figures were changed following a recount of the ballots and Lower Lake won with a margin of seven votes.Two months later the county offices were moved to Lower Lake.  At the same time, a petition signed by 167 voters was filed with the Board of Supervisors charging that several persons not legally entitled to vote had cast ballots. The petition was upheld and in May, 1870, election number four was held between Lakeport and Lower Lake.  Once more Lakeport proved victorious, this time by a margin of 479 to 404, and a great celebration that began with the firing of 75 rifle shots (representing the margin of difference in the voting) followed.

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