Eyewitness Account

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S hould it feel a little self-satisfied at the moment, the state superior courthouse at 121 Elm Street, New Haven, would be well within its rights. It emerged not long ago from a protracted awkward phase—a stalled exterior restoration ringed by street-encroaching barricades, chain-link fencing and copious scaffolding. A janky sign of spray-painted plywood, hung from the chain-link, pointed visitors to a temporary entrance down the left side.

Now the only outward signs of the restoration work are some plywood-covered windows above the main entrance, a bit of extant scaffolding around back and, for the eagle-eyed, a cast of protective netting covering the neoclassical sculpture atop the front facade.

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Built in 1913, the huge marble structure’s a marvel to behold in sum, but it might be even more so in part. Constrained views of the building—a brassy railing’s shadow zigzagging up granite stairs, or a cascading perspective of massive columns, or six other perspectives presented here for your viewing pleasure—create trippy abstractions that can paradoxically, brain-teasingly, look like photorealistic paintings.

Justice is blind at 121 Elm, we hope, but when courthouses are built like this one, it sure is nice to be able to take a good look.

Connecticut Superior Court “GA23”
121 Elm St, New Haven (map)
www.jud.ct.gov/…

Written and photographed by Dan Mims.

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Dan has worked for a couple of major media companies, but he likes Daily Nutmeg best. As DN’s editor, he writes, photographs, edits and otherwise shepherds ideas into fully realized feature stories, helped in no small part by a small team of dedicated contributors.

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