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Broome County Courthouse


The Broome County Courthouse (92 Court Street) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [1] Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.

Description

Broome County's Courthouse is a massive two and one-half story structure, built on a raised foundation, in the form of a Latin Cross and topped with an elegant copper dome. Originally constructed in a truncated T-shape, in 1897-98, the south wing was added in 1916-17 to form the cross. The main structure is nine bays wide on the front or north elevation and three bays deep on the east and west elevations. The rectangular addition measures 45 x 100 feet.

Ohio sandstone was chosen for construction of the exterior walls and a masonry load bearing structural system is employed. The gabled roof is covered with terra cotta tile and has copper cornices.

A copper dome rises from an octagonal base in the center of the original structure. The lower drum has copper sheathing, while the upper drum contains three semi-circular headed windows in each of the eight sections. Copper pilasters separate the sections and there is a balustrade at the base of each unit. The ribbed dome has circular face on each of the eight sides, with ornamental trim. Four of the eight faces are clocks and a second balustrade surrounds the dome. Identifying the county seat is a statue perched on an octagonal stone cupola atop the dome, and enclosed by an elaborate iron fence.

On the north elevation of the Broome County Courthouse is a two and one half story portico supported by solid stone columns, with capitals, in the Ionic style. The portico's ceiling is cast iron and the stone pediment is faced with the county seal in relief. One approaches the portico by means of a three sided staircase.

Interesting exterior features of the Broome County Courthouse are the three window types that are employed. The frieze of the original structure has porthole windows, while the east and west pediments have lunette windows. In the remainder of the structure are rectangular windows with eared frames, stone sills and keystones.

The Courthouse has a total of seven chimneys, three on the west wing and four on the east wing.

The Broome County Courthouse interiors are plain and functional and have received various renovations over the years.

Significance

A notable part of nineteenth century governmental building in Broome County was the construction of courthouses. The existing Broome County Courthouse is the fourth erected in the century and third built on the present site. Erected in 1897-98 and surrounded by a four and one-half acre parcel of land, it is the focal point of the present governmental environment and will form the apex of the new governmental complex emerging to the south which is composed of State, County, and City offices.

Considered a regional landmark the Broome County Courthouse is noted for its classical design and is an expression of the taste and workmanship exhibited at the close of the 19th century, particularly in the use of stone and copper.

Isaac G. Perry, architect for the New York State Inebriate Asylum in 1857, and later the Phelps Mansion and Perry Block, all in the Binghamton area, designed the Broome County Courthouse. Perry, who was appointed in 1883 by New York Governor Grover Cleveland as Commissioner of the State Capitol designed that building's noted "Million Dollar Staircase."

The Broome County Courthouse, similar in design but larger and more elegant than its predecessor, which was built in 1856 and burned in 1896, makes use in part of the previous foundation. The significant differences are a wider portico, larger and solid stone columns, and a copper dome. Many eyes are daily turned to the clock that adorns the dome, and which was a gift of Harvey Westcott.

As the fourth generation Broome County Courthouse the building, the largest and most elegant, has out-served its predecessors, by functioning for over three-quarters of a century, as the County seat. It continues today as both a focal point and functional part of County government.

References

Bowers, Clement G., "More Light on the Binghams," Bulletin of the Broome County Historical Society, Vol.III, Nov. 1955.

Chester, Alden, "Courts and Lawyers of New York," American Historical Society Inc., 1925, pp.1187-1198.

Lawyer, William, "Binghamton - Its Settlement, Growth, Development, 1800 - 1900, Century Memorial Publishing Co. 1900.

Sewart, William, "Binghamton and Broome County, New York," Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1924, pp.63-64.

Broome County Clerk Minutes 1896-1897.

"Binghamton Republican" Microfilm - Binghamton Public Library - Tues. Dec. 29, 1896.

Wilkinson, J. B., "The Annals of Binghamton and of the County Connected With It," Binghamton: Cooke and Davis Printers 1840.

  1. Levy, Steven S., N.Y. State Department of Historic Preservation, Court Street Historic District,, nomination document, 1973, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Broome County Courthouse Map

Street Names
Court Street

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