Bronx County Courthouse
The Bronx County Courthouse was built on the cusp between FDR’s governorship in New York and the federal New Deal of his presidency. It was approved in 1928 and construction begun in 1931, but the work was not completed until 1933 or 1934, when Mayor LaGuardia officially dedicated the building.
As researcher Frank da Cruz explains, “[Although] FDR did not become president until 1933, before that he was the governor of New York State and had already begun the New Deal right here to provide work relief and build worthwhile projects, such as the Bronx campus of Hunter College.”
There was evidently an injection of $8 million by the federal government to complete the project, probably from the Public Works Administration (PWA), created in early 1933.
The courthouse stands 9-stories tall and fills an entire city block. The design by Joseph Freedlander (who also did the Museum of the City of New York) and Max Hausel is a blend of Neoclassical and Moderne. Inside are four murals depicting Bronx history by James Monroe Hewlett. Outside, a classical frieze by Charles Keck encircles the building and bas-reliefs by George Holburn Snowden flank the entrances on the 161st Street side. The two free-standing monumental sculptures in front are by several artists, including Joseph Kiselewski, supervised by Adolph Weinman (that is not confirmed).
These artworks appear to be part of the original design of the building and not sponsored by any of the federal arts projects of the New Deal, but that is uncertain.
Today the Bronx County Courthouse serves as the Bronx Borough Hall (now that the Bronx is a separate county) and has been renamed the Mario Merola Building. It is a City Landmark and was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
Project originally submitted by Frank da Cruz, Richard Walker on June 3, 2015.
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