Bronx County Courthouse

Bronx County Courthouse

Bronx, NY

The Bronx County Courthouse, a steel-framed building with a granite and limestone facade, was described by the Herald Tribune as a prime example of the "Twentieth Century American style", a combination Modern which was popular in Europe in the 1920s and 30s, and neo-classical. With a high-rusticated granite base and upper windows set in vertical ribbons with copper and nickel Art Deco style spandrels separated by limestone piers, it is the dominant feature of the Bronx Grand Concourse. A large flight of stairs leads to a columned entrance portico, in typical courthouse style. Built in 1933 during the Depression at a cost of $8 million, this public project provided much-needed work for architects, sculptors and construction workers.

The architects of the Bronx County courthouse were the European-trained Joseph Freedlander and Max Hausel, who collaborated on this one venture. Joseph Freedlander (1870-1943), born in New York and trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the EcolÈ des Beaux Arts in Paris, was President of the Fine Arts Federation. Max Hausel, born in Switzerland in 1879, where he trained as an architect, emigrated to the United States in 1897. He worked with Michael Garvin, the Bronx architect who designed the Bronx Borough Courthouse in 1905. His austere classical style has had a major influence on Bronx civic architecture. Charles Keck, sculptor of figures for Columbia University and the facade of the Brooklyn Museum, designed the frieze above the base. It depicts the activities of man, with themes relating to agriculture, commerce, industry, religion and the arts. Adolph Weinman oversaw the creation of two pink marble sculptural groups installed at the courthouse entrances. Other sculptors whose work adorns the building include George Snowden, Joseph Kiselewski, and Edward Sandford, Jr.

The interior of the building includes arched marble entrances to the lobbies and vaulted elevator lobbies with bronze doors topped by pediments. All of the courtrooms have wood paneling with classical ornament, in a number of different styles and variety of wood types. In 1934, Mayor LaGuardia received a bronze key during the building's three-day dedication and celebration. The Bronx County Courthouse was designated a New York City Landmark in 1996 and is also listed on the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places.