New Haven Courthouse

New Haven County Courthouse

Location New Haven, CT

Category Government

Historic Restoration

Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, Award of Merit

Presiding over the New Haven Green since 1914, the New Haven County Courthouse is listed on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Spearheaded by retired Supreme Court Justice Robert I. Berdon, a task force of judges, attorneys, and concerned citizens pressed for restoration of this public landmark.

In response to concerns raised in a state-commissioned Historic Structures Report, the State of Connecticut retained Hoffmann Architects + Engineers to define a scope of repairs and develop contract documents. To fulfill these objectives, Hoffmann reviewed original historical drawings and previous reports, and conducted an on-site investigation to document observed symptoms of distress and failure. Repair methods commensurate with historic integrity were developed to address exterior deficiencies, prioritizing areas of immediate concern.

The State of Connecticut then decided, as a matter of convenience, to combine this scope with the scope developed by JCJ Architecture for the renovation of the remaining building exterior. Subsequently, JCJ Architecture retained Hoffmann Architects + Engineers to join the design team as building enclosure consultant for the full restoration project. Hoffmann updated the previous contract documents for incorporation into this larger and more comprehensive renovation project and assisted with construction administration services.

Beginning with elevated work on the courthouse facade, restoration was divided into two phases to minimize disruption. The first phase involved repair of marble facade and plaster soffit elements, including the replacement of select deteriorated column capitols, architrave elements, and masonry joints. In the second phase, the grand staircase at street level was removed due to deterioration and structural concerns and reconstructed with reinforced concrete and the existing granite stair treads.

As an essential facility in continuous operation, the courthouse demanded collaboration among project team members to respond effectively to unforeseen challenges and to develop strategies to restore historic masonry and fixtures without undue disruption. For this public building, prioritizing restoration needs over time was also essential to maximizing the available budget. Ensuring safe access to the facility while carrying out lasting, historically sensitive restoration required coordinated effort of the various craftspeople, construction team members, facility personnel, and design professionals. The result of this team effort is a renewed courthouse the New Haven Register extolls as “once again a jewel on the green.”

Deteriorated marble column capital prepared for rehabilitation

Deteriorated marble column capital prepared for rehabilitation

Deteriorated portion cut away and prepared for repair

Insecure portion cut away and prepared for repair

Replacement of deteriorated portion complete

Replacement of sugaring marble complete

Preservation Connecticut Award of Merit

New Haven County Courthouse

This team preservation effort brought together specialists in a variety of disciplines to restore the courthouse while maintaining continuous operation.