The Essex County Courthouse, constructed between 1902 and 1906, was designed by Cass Gilbert, the architect of the U.S. Customs House and the Woolworth Building in New York City. This five-story, marble-clad structure contains artwork by some of the finest artists of the American Renaissance period and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The building’s restoration was divided into three phases. The first phase of work included developing a space allocation program for the Civil Division of the Superior Court, and undertaking a careful architectural and historical analysis of the existing building. The second phase restored the marble exterior of the Courthouse. The third phase was a comprehensive interior restoration and renovation. Ten historic courtrooms were restored and a new courtroom added to accommodate the county’s expanded judicial needs. Restoration included the murals and historical finishes throughout the building. A large amount of historic furniture survived at the Courthouse, much of it made to Cass Gilbert’s designs and specifications. Restoration and reuse of this furniture was a significant feature of the restoration effort. The building systems were completely replaced to meet current standards for comfort, health, and safety, and to provide service for new security and communications equipment. Vital to the success of the project was finding ways to accommodate new equipment and systems that allowed for a contemporary work environment, made the building safe and accessible, and did not compromise the historic character or details.