New London County Courthouse
The New London County Courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2010, The Gombach Group.
The New London County Courthouse (now New London State Courthouse), located at 70 Huntington Street in New London, Connecticut, is a two and a half story gambrel roofed building, which is topped by a centrally located octagonal cupola with a curved and pointed roof.
The frame, building is clapboarded and painted white. Beneath the flared gambrel roof the facade has seven bays with three bays on each side of a central pavilion. The entrance is recessed with the opening framed by blocks of wood cut to resemble angle quoins, the lintel having a large wooden key block with angled blocks on each side. This motif is repeated in the framing of the windows of the ground floor.
Pilasters composed of vertical stacks of wooden blocks resembling angle-quoins bound the central pavilion on the ground floor level and are repeated at all four corners of the building, but these stop at the second floor, the corners being ornamented at this second level by fluted pilasters which echo those of the second story level of the pavilion. All of these pilasters support a large but simple cornice with cushion frieze. Above this, modillion blocks follow the line of the roof across the gable of the triangular pediment of the pavilion and the rake of its roof.
The noticeable discontinuity of the first level with the second points to a major change in the exterior of the courthouse — the removal of a gallery which ran around the entirety of the building. According to F.M. Caulkins this gallery gave the building a "gay and dashing appearance," however, there is no evidence as to when it was torn down. Another important alteration in the original condition of the structure is its changed location: it was moved back from its original portion in the middle of the street.
Aside from, the roof framing, little of the interior remains that is original: alterations were made in 1909 and court rooms were added in the back. Dudley St. Clair Donnelly was the architect of these changes. In 1909 also, the front windows were lowered two feet. In 1945 both the windows and the window frames were restored to their original condition. There were some alterations made in 1949, but these entailed only the addition of some partitions and rest rooms.
The New London County Courthouse (now New London State Courthouse) is an architecturally outstanding building by a known architect, Isaac Fitch. Its historical significance is tied in with that of the town of New London and with New England. It was a yellow fever hospital in 1795; the Peace Ball was held there in 1815; it was a recruiting center during the Civil War; lying-in-state for Civil War dead took place here; Sunday Schools met here before their acceptance by churches; city and town meetings, political rallies, and abolitionist meetings were held within it.
White Pine Series of Architectural Monographs, 1920, Volume 6, Number 1; 1930, Volume 12, Number 6.
Historic American Buildings Survey CONN 3-2.
Constance Luyster, Connecticut Historical Commission, New London County Courthouse (now State Courthouse), New London, CT, nomination document, 1970, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.