Date Built: 1919-1925
Architect: Guy Lowell
The Supreme Courthouse (New York County Court) overlooks Foley Square and is located between Worth and Pearl Streets. The building houses the Supreme Court and the Office of the County Clerk.
"In 1927 the New York County Court moved from the old Tweed Courthouse to this spacious granite-faced building. The Boston architect Guy Lowell won a competition in 1913 with a design for a round building. Construction was delayed and the design altered to a hexagonal form; work finally began in 1919. The Roman classical style chosen was popular for courthouse architecture in the first decades of the 20th century."*
The courthouse was the first major New York commission for the well-known Boston architect Guy Lowell (1870-1927). He designed the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the building plan for Philips Academy at Andover, Massachusetts. He was also a landscape architect and designed formal gardens for Andrew Carnegie and J. Pierpont Morgan in New York.
The courthouse rises above a 100-foot wide flight of steps to an imposing colonnade of 10 granite fluted Corinthian columns. Above the columns are engraved words attributed to George Washington: "The true administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government."
Above this is a triangular pediment, 140-feet long, with 14 classical figures in high relief. Along the huge roofline are three statues representing Law, Truth and Equity. All of the pediment sculpture was carved by Frederick Warren Allen.
"The monumental character of the exterior continues on the interior, with its central rotunda and radial corridors. In the 1930s, under the sponsorship of the federal government's artists' relief programs, Attilio Pusterla painted a series of murals on the vestibule ceiling and on the rotunda dome."*
The New York State Supreme Court building was designated a City Landmark in 1966.