Connecticut Superior Court GA23

Eyewitness Account

Should 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)…

Written and photographed by Dan Mims.

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