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Fairfield County Courthouse at Bridgeport
Postmarked 1903

Fairfield County Courthouse at
Bridgeport
Golden Hill
Click on any picture to see a larger version.

Fairfield County Courthouse at Bridgeport
Copyright 1905
Fairfield County Courthouse at Bridgeport
Copyright 1905
Greetings from Bridgeport, Conn. Postcard
Copyright pre-March 1907
Fairfield County Courthouse
Postmarked 1907
Fairfield County Courthouse at Bridgeport
Copyright 1911
Fairfield County Courthouse
Postmarked 1911

Much debate accompanied the placing of the Fairfield County Courthouse in Bridgeport. Fairfield was the site of the first county seat and there, in 1720, the colonists erected the first courthouse--a wooden structure that was burned by the British during the Revolutionary War. It was rebuilt in 1794. But by the mid-1800s, with the burgeoning industrial and population growth of neighboring Bridgeport,

Bridgeport Courthouse
Published 1922

Fairfield County Courthouse at Bridgeport
Copyright 1940
 

it became clear that not only was the old courthouse inadequate for the surrounding region but the town of Fairfield no longer deserving to be called a shire town.  (A shire town is a town where some of the county offices are situated and where a court of superior jurisdiction sits). In those days, there was often more than one shire town in a county.

Bridgeport City Hall
Postmarked 1905

Bridgeport City Hall
Postmarked 1907

Bridgeport City Hall
Postmarked 1908

The building, which is now an annex of City Hall, was Bridgeport's first Courthouse and was built in 1853-54 on a lot between State and Bank Streets on the East side of the public square.

The building's construction ended a long dispute with Norwalk over which city should have the honor of being the county seat. Bridgeport's offer to pay for the building of a courthouse and jail settled the dispute. The building, which cost $75,000, was designed by Alexander Jackson Davis in the Greek Revival-style, which resembles a temple. The building had two main floors for court and county government, a large ground floor for use as City Hall and a large gathering space, Washington Hall, for public meetings. The building was opened in 1855 and on March 10, 1860, Abraham Lincoln spoke to a standing-room-only crowd gathered in Washington Hall.

Although it was claimed to be sufficient for "all time", the new building soon proved inadequate for the growing business of Bridgeport and the county. Ironically, though it had been built near the public square for convenience, this soon became a nuisance when court was in session because of the increasing noise levels in the streets below. Streetcars became a particular annoyance to those who conducted their business in the Courthouse.

In 1886 the County Bar Association and county representatives met and decided it was time to build another Courthouse. Once again Norwalk bid for the Courthouse to be moved and offered $100,000. But the Bridgeport group voted to appropriate $150,000 and soon won legislative approval in April 1886. A few members of the Bridgeport committee included the Hon. Sidney B. Beardsley as well as P.T. Barnum.

A site was chosen near the northwest corner of Golden Hill and Main Streets and the cornerstone was laid on June 24, 1887.

The castle-like building. designed by architect Warren R. Briggs, was completed and opened in 1888.

Today it is Geographical Area (GA) Courthouse No. 2 at Bridgeport, where all but the most serious criminal cases are heard.


Souvenir postcard of Bridgeport, Connecticut
Copyright 1941

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Fairfield County Courthouse at Bridgeport
Copyright 1941

   

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