Essex County Courthouse
Planning & Design
The Essex County Courthouse (Cass Gilbert, 1906) is one of America’s most significant examples of art integrated into civic architecture from the American Renaissance period. Gilbert selected a number of prominent artists such as Edwin Howland Blashfield and Kenyon Cox to paint the magnificent murals within the courthouse. The courthouse was closed for ten years, during which time the interior deteriorated due to unstable temperatures, humidity, and water from leaks in the roof. EverGreene began with a comprehensive investigation and conditions survey of all interior decorative elements, including decorative paint, plaster, fine arts, stone, and wood.
EverGreene restored and conserved decorative painting and gilding, including the replication of trompe l’oeil panels on canvas in the New York studio before installing them on site. Damaged and missing pastiglia and composition ornament was also restored.
Fine Arts Conservation
EverGreene conserved twelve historic murals located throughout the courthouse, including the four rotunda murals by Edwin Howland Blashfield depicting the figures of justice, and Kenyon Cox’s The Beneficence of the Law in the east courtroom. The process of conserving the murals differed from piece to piece, depending on the level of deterioration. The majority of the murals required extensive surface cleaning, emergency stabilization, overpaint removal, and inpainting.
Restoring the considerably damaged oak, walnut, and mahogany paneling in the courtrooms, offices, and hallways required extensive cleaning and stripping of the old shellac varnish. One courtroom even featured a Venetian wood ceiling. For EverGreene’s team of twelve wood refinishers, matching the new finish to the old was the most challenging aspect of the wood restoration.
EverGreene performed stone cleaning and restoration on the entrance hall marble floor and Indiana limestone walls, white marble and limestone wainscoting and pilasters in several courtrooms. Another courtroom featured perforated metal acoustical panels, which were also restored.
Architect: Ford Farewell Mills & Gatsch
General Contractor: Hall Construction Company, Inc.