The postcards and photo below show one of the Superior Court Houses in Essex County, Massachusetts. This one is located in Newburyport and is the smallest of all the county courthouses, perhaps the smallest in the state of Massachusetts and most likely among the smallest in the country.
|(click any pic to magnify)|
The courthouse has only one courtroom which is on the second floor. The second floor also has a small judge's chambers and jury room. The first floor contains some small administrative offices.
It was designed by the noted architect Charles Bulfinch. Bulfinch also designed many famous Boston landmarks including Faneuil Hall, the new (1798) Statehouse, and the Otis Gray house. He was also the architect in charge of planning the Rotunda of the U.S. Capital.
This little courthouse has been around since 1805. It originally had a front porch. I suppose you could relax there before being taken to trial!
Noted figures from history who got their start practicing law here are President John Quincy Adams and Senator Daniel Webster.
In 1976 in the midst of the nation's bicentennial the old courthouse was subject of a terror attack. A bomb was planted in the lobby one night. The left corner of the building collapsed and windows were blown out. It's not certain why this courthouse was the subject of the activists but it was not their only target. A local post office and National Guard building, where ammunition was stolen, was also bombed. The perpetrators were caught, tried, and sentenced.
|Photo: Google Earth|
As you can see, by the newer Google Earth image, the old court is in great shape. The scars of the bombing attack have faded and it is still used. This brings us to the last distinction of the little building. It is the oldest regularly operating courthouse in the the country.
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