Hillsborough County Courthouse
The Hillsborough County Courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.
The Hillsborough County Courthouse occupies a slightly sloping site at 19 Temple Street opposite Court Street close to Nashua's central business district. The Hillsborough County Courthouse (1901) is built of red brick rising from a rock-faced granite ashlar basement and is trimmed with granite and cast stone, while the addition (1946) is red brick rising from a concrete basement, and trimmed with granite. Rusticated brickwork exists at each corner; a moulded cornice exists at the level of the second-story lintels and above, a dentil and egg-and-dart cornice extends around the building. Except as noted, all windows at the main building contain modern metal replacement sash; basement windows contain 1/1 sash, and first- and second-story windows contain triple-hung 1/1/1 sash with transoms. Sills, lintels and surrounds vary by elevation.
The Hillsborough County Courthouse plan consists of a rectangular 2-story main building (north) and a 2-story addition (rising only to the head of the main building's first story) at the west and south elevations of the main building. Built in 1901, the main building possesses a flat roof encircled by a low brick parapet. Historical photographs show that the building originally possessed a low dome, removed after 1946. The facade (north elevation) is five bays wide and is symmetrical about a projecting central entry bay. Granite steps with a pipe railing rise to the entry, which consists of double aluminum and glass doors with a transom above, set within a wooden surround with a semi-elliptical pediment on consoles. Historical photographs show that the original double doors contained a large light set within wooden rails. Windows are slightly recessed from the wall, and are set in moulded surrounds with wooden panels below. At the first story, windows possess semi-elliptical pediments on consoles. Centered at the head of the second story is a pediment containing an eagle.
The east elevation is seven bays wide and nearly symmetrical about a former entry, which originally contained double doors, now blocked down to contain paired windows. A set of granite steps rise to the former entry, and possesses a blocked, segmental arched opening at the basement. Basement windows are set in rectangular openings. Brick piers project slightly between bays above the basement. All windows have cast stone sills; at the first story, windows are set in segmental arched openings with cast stone keystones, with the exception of the northernmost window, which is set in a partially bricked in opening. At the second story, windows are set in rectangular openings, with a small window near the center flanked by three widows on each side, the three northernmost being longer.
The rear elevation (south) of the main building is partially obscured by the addition, which rises to the head of the first story, extending across the western half of the elevation. All openings have segmental arches formed by three rows of headers. At the basement, the westernmost exposed bay contains an entry with double doors (glass and aluminum); three windows exist to the east of the entry. Four windows corresponding to the basement bays exist at the first story. At the second story, six windows exist above the addition (west), and three smaller windows exist at the east with a blank space at the center.
The west elevation of the main building is exposed only above the first story with the exception of the northernmost bay, which is entirely exposed; finishes at this elevation match those at the east elevation. The second bay from the north contains an oval window.
The addition is a flat-roofed structure which projects one bay from the west elevation of the main building and two bays from the rear (south elevation). It rises two stories from a concrete basement; walls are of a brick matching the original building. Windows are rectangular with metal 6/3 and 9/6 sash (original), and rock-faced granite sills. The north elevation of the addition is one bay wide, and contains a basement window (6/3) and a first-story window set in a blind arch with sash matching the replacement sash used throughout the main building. Brickwork at the northwest corner of the addition is rusticated to match the main building. The west elevation is 9 bays wide, and possesses 6/3 sash at first- and second-story throughout, with the exception of the northernmost bay at the second story, where a larger, 9/6 sash exists. At the rear (south elevation), the addition is 7 bays wide; the two easternmost bays contain 9/6 sash, while the remainder are 6/3.
Alterations to the building consist primarily of the construction of the addition (1946), the removal of the dome (after 1946), the replacement of all sash and entries in the main building, and alterations to several openings at the east elevation. The original site plan is unknown. The site has been changed by the widening of Temple Street, and by the paving of most of the lot for parking.
The Hillsborough County Courthouse possesses integrity of design, materials, workmanship, location and historical associations with the development of Hillsborough County throughout the 20th century. Its symmetry, projecting quoined entry pavilion, cornices and window caps make the Hillsborough County Courthouse characteristic of the Classical Revival style, while the building's continuous use as the seat of county government give the building significance for its role in county politics throughout the 20th century. Its good state of preservation and its continuous use for its original purpose as a courthouse compare favorably to other county courthouses.
Standing on a site near the commercial center of Nashua, the Hillsborough County Courthouse was built in response to the population growth which had occurred by the late 1890s. The existing Courthouse was found inadequate in space, location and security for the needs of probate and superior court, and storage of county records. In February, 1901 a bill was passed by the New Hampshire Legislature authorizing the Hillsborough County Convention to make an appropriation not exceeding $130,000 for the purchase of land and the construction of a courthouse and county offices, and a committee was organized. The land on which the Hillsborough County Courthouse stands was purchased from Dr. Edward Spalding for $15,000, and his house was moved from it. Plans for the building were prepared by the architectural firm of Dana and Woodbury, and the building was completed in the spring of 1903.
At the time of its completion, the Hillsborough County Courthouse appeared nearly as it does today, except that it had a low dome, and its rear addition did not exist. The building's interior contained the registry of probate and the probate court room to the right and left of the entry, with the registry of deeds and county commissioner's office at the rear. On the second floor were the large superior court room and various offices. Basement and attic contained storage, vaults, jail cells, and utilities. The two-story rear addition was constructed in 1946, and provided additional office space. In its present  good condition, the Hillsborough County Courthouse preserves its original decorative details characteristic of a Classical Revival style courthouse.
Nashua Centennial: The story of a century 1853-1953. Unp.,1953 (Nashua Public Library).
Telegraph Publishing Company, coup. The Official report of the semicentennial celebration of the City of Nashua, NH, June 28-30, 1903. Nashua: Telegraph Pub., 1903.
W.P.A. Attorneys and the County Courthouse, n.d., n.p. (Nashua Public Library, Nashua, NH)
† Kin Withers Brengle, Architectural Heritage Foundation, Boston, Hillsborough County Courthouse, Nashua, NH, nomination document, 1985, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.