Salem County Courthouse


 
   
Client: County of Salem
Location: Salem, NJ
 
This project encompasses the restoration of the interior and exterior of America’s oldest courthouse remaining in continuous use. The original section of the courthouse dates from the late 1720’s with additions in the 1780’s and early 1800’s. Prior to our involvement there existed serious structural deterioration of the original wood joists and beams, settlement of the foundation, rot to the main portico column bases, large openings cut into the facade brick, roof rafter cracks and listing of the cupola. In our effort to preserve the entry portal and courtroom while meeting the code requirements of today, we determined to eliminate all non-original elements, which intruded into the spaces over the years, including metal free standing furnaces, “lumber yard” moulding, non-original wall coverings, asbestos laden piping, lay-in ceiling tile and several layers of inappropriate finishes.  Essentially, we stripped both the interior and exterior of the courthouse down to the original essence of the building. Beginning with the original fabric of the building, we carefully reapplied the requirements of the applicable building codes, seeking code variations where necessary to preserve original details and spaces. For example: we eliminated the need for a second means of egress, which was provided in the 1970’s with an exterior steel restoration of the original grand staircase as the only egress. The crawl space was excavated to create a basement, where all of the HVAC and other mechanical equipment are to be located rather than placing building equipment in every “nook”in the old building.