It was where Robert Zemeckis shot the electrifying clock-tower climax with Michael J. Fox in "Back to the Future." It was also the courthouse backdrop for Gregory Peck's Oscar-winning performance in "To Kill a Mockingbird."
In addition to engulfing a soundstage, a video vault and part of the King Kong attraction at Universal's theme park, the fire that broke out early Sunday on the studio's famous back lot destroyed the iconic Courthouse Square set, used in hundreds of film and TV productions over the decades, as well as part of the studio's New York Street area.
This isn't the first time the backlot has caught fire. Though the courthouse was spared in a 1990 blaze that swept through the studio (and destroyed more than four acres, including a building used in "Dick Tracy" and sets for "Ben-Hur"), the New York Street set had to be rebuilt from the smoldering ashes. That set was also destroyed by a fire in 1957.
Both outdoor sets have a tremendous history at Universal.
Fans of the old television series "Leave It to Beaver" may recognize the courthouse facade as where the Beav went to school.
And before it was called Courthouse Square, thanks to its use in the "Back to the Future" movies, the area was known as Mockingbird Square because of its extensive use in the 1962 adaptation of the Harper Lee novel.
The Hill Valley clock tower was added to the courthouse for "Back to the Future," but over the years, filmmakers have removed the clock and redressed the buildings for several films, including Steven Spielberg's "War of the Worlds," plus "Bruce Almighty" and "The Cat in the Hat." It was also used in the 1960s musicals "Bye Bye Birdie" (it was where pop star Conrad Birdie performed to his adoring female fans) and "The Music Man" (as the locale of the "76 Trombones" parade finale).
Courthouse Square was one of the standing sets of the current CBS paranormal drama "Ghost Whisperer."