our nation entered the Twentieth Century
pressure mounted in Hartford and across the
State of Connecticut for a building that would
provide the much-needed space for the State
Library and Supreme Court. Further, the
citizenry and its leaders believed that the
building should also serve as a monumental
edifice to the legal, historical and
intellectual fabric of Connecticut.
With this in
mind, noted New York Architect Donn Barber created an
imposing structure of Italian Renaissance design with
symbolic statuary groups above the portico, which is reached
by wide steps from street level.
building was opened in 1909. At the laying of the
cornerstone Chief Justice Simeon E. Baldwin said, "Set by
itself, in all the majestic dignity which architecture can
command, is rising before our eyes the splendid home which
Connecticut has prepared for her highest court of justice
and for the books that teach what justice is and give it
form." The magnificent granite structure faces north on
Capitol Avenue, directly across the street from the State
Capitol, which was erected in 1878.
The statuary above the
building features four female figures by noted French
sculptor Michel Louis Tonnetti, whose works include statues
in the Library of Congress and on the facades of the New
York Public Library. The figures, Justice, History, Art
and Science, were installed on the building in October
The West Wing of the
building contains the Supreme Court Courtroom and the
Justices' Chambers while the East Wing houses the Library.
The Museum of Connecticut History occupies Memorial Hall
which is located between the two wings.
The Supreme Court
courtroom is 43 feet wide, 56 feet long and 35 feet high.
Two murals by Albert Herter accentuate the stately
courtroom. Behind the bench is The Signing of the
Fundamental Orders of the Constitution 1638-39. Included
in the mural are famous Connecticut founders Thomas Hooker,
Roger Ludlow and John Haynes. The other mural, An
Allegory of Education, covers the ceiling of the
courtroom and provides a visually enlightening metaphor.