NASSAU COUNTY, NY – Nassau County Executive Laura Curran was joined by District Attorney Madeline Singas, Nassau County Administrative Judge, the Hon. Norman St. George and others to announce that the Nassau County Courthouse at 262 Old Country Rd. in Mineola was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Planned by the federal Public Works Administration as a Depression-era infrastructure project between 1938 and 1940, the Nassau County Courthouse has been the centerpiece of the Nassau County Court campus for 80 years.
“It gives me great pride that this incredible structure has earned its place on the list of historic places and I thank Dan Looney, deputy executive assistant district attorney for his decades of diligent research that led to this recognition,” said County Executive Curran. “Justice requires constant maintenance, so do her courthouses – and this recognition not only highlights this historic gem but could lead to funding that will help preserve its history for another 80 years to come.”
“When the Nassau County Courthouse was constructed in 1940 it was regal, state of the art and created a sense of civic pride,” District Attorney Singas said. “Today, it’s our turn to bring this building back to its majestic beginnings. Thanks to the National Historic Register designation, we’ll now be able to receive funds to restore the courthouse and preserve a piece of Nassau County history.”
“We are delighted that our Nassau County Courthouse is being listed on the New York State and National Register of Historic Places. Not only is it an amazing building with incredible architecture, it is a vital Courthouse in Nassau County. Judges, Court Staff, attorneys and the public utilize the building daily for the adjudication of felony criminal cases. Judge St. George noted that it is fitting that the inscription on the West Side of the Building reads “Justice is God’s Idea, but Man’s Ideal”. Everyone who enters the Courthouse commits themselves to the pursuit of Justice for the citizens of Nassau County,” stated the Hon. Norman St. George.
The effort to have the courthouse listed in the Registry was spearheaded by Daniel G. Looney, deputy executive assistant district attorney. With the court's original records, blueprints and transcripts burnt in a fire at Mitchel Field in 1974, it took almost three decades and a 62-page application, documenting the architecture, history to earn the recognition.
Theodore Roosevelt in 1900 laid the cornerstone for the county’s first courthouse at Old Country Rd. and Franklin Avenue. It was expanded in 1911 and 1926 and renovated later, but by the late 1930s Nassau had grown – and outgrown the initial courts.
In 1938 Lawrence Lincoln, Lawrence J. Lincoln, a local resident who had worked at Henry Bacon’s architectural firm on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., designed the complex.
The influence of the Lincoln Memorial is present in the building’s design - the courthouse’s tall columns, lofty ceilings, lanterns, and sunlit rotunda mirror the memorial’s design. And the tripod entrance of the courthouse is a miniature of its counterpart in Washington.
The project, constructed by P.J. Carlin Construction, cost $2.65 million and provided jobs for around 600 workers.
“While buildings’ design matters, a courthouse in the end is about people – and the construction recognizes that,” said Curran.
Albert Stewart’s panels show figures representing law, equity, charity, family, labor, construction, the marketplace, factory work and the elderly. The main building has words carved in stone, saying “Let us cherish justice that serves no master” and “Justice is god’s idea – man’s ‘ideal.’”
The courthouse joins other Nassau sites on the register, including the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Historic District, The East Willison Village Historic District, First Presbyterian Church of Oyster Bay and Hempstead Town Hall. The LIRR station in Farmingdale is another way to travel through time.