After more than
100 years of petitioning the State Legislature to create a
new county and name Waterbury its county seat, the city
government finally was granted part of its wish. In 1872,
the State Legislature ordered that two sessions of Superior
Court would be held each year in Waterbury—thus making the
City half a shire town—provided that proper accommodations
Waterbury City Hall
Published pre-March 1907
to let the moment pass, the town fathers made
certain that there was a courtroom in the new
City Hall, which was opened in 1869.
Accompanying the courtroom in this space were a
jury room, clerk’s room and a fireproof vault.
From 1867 to 1896, Waterbury sessions of the
Superior Court for New Haven County were held in
this courtroom at the southeast corner of the
building. Previously these cases were held in
But the building
of the police station in 1890 at the southeast side of City
Hall blocked out both light and air to a great extent in the
courtroom. This prompted complaints by attorneys and judges,
who would often adjourn the terms of the Waterbury Superior
Court to New Haven.
To help remedy
this situation, the Connecticut Legislature, in 1895,
authorized the erection of a new County Courthouse in the
City of Waterbury and mandated that the City and New Haven
County share the cost of the building.
Courthouse, designed by noted architect Wilfred Elizur
Griggs, was erected on the corner of Leavenworth Street and
Kendrick Avenue, with the entrance on Leavenworth. The
building, which cost $91,000, was opened for business in
Fellows Building, Waterbury
demand for space soon necessitated its
renovation. Griggs completed this renovation in
1911 at a cost of $164,412 (this did not include
the interior furnishings). During the renovation
court was moved to one of the floors of the Odd
Fellows Building. Court was held there from
March 7, 1910 until August 1, 1911.
completely changed the exterior of the Courthouse, which
included removing the dome, and expanded the interior with
two more wings and a third floor. The Leavenworth Street
façade was torn down and the building enlarged with a new
entrance constructed facing Kendrick Avenue. The renovated
Courthouse was built in the Italian Renaissance style, with
four massive Ionic columns at its entrance. The exterior was
constructed of red tapestry brick and granite with terra
cotta for the ornamental work.
housed three tall and stately courtrooms with ash woodwork
and comfortable jury rooms.
Judge Lucien F. Burpee held
the first session of Superior Court in the newly renovated
building on September 12, 1911.