HACKENSACK, N.J. -- The Bergen County Courthouse is about to undergo facade repairs from damage most likely caused by pile driving for the courthouse office building addition next door.
Scaffolding was erected last week, and Friday afternoon black mesh curtains were hung on the north and east sides of the building.
Laura Simuldone, trial court administrator, told Daily Voice the exterior is being examined for structural damage after two large chunks of the Beaux Arts cornice fell. The facade, which was completed in 1912, is made of Vermont marble, but the material where the damage occurred is Arkansas limestone, a softer material.
The first piece of cornice, which Simuldone said was “the size of a tombstone,” fell near the sheriff’s department last summer. The second piece was in a corner near the main security entrance on Court Street. Both pieces fell close to the building, and no one was hurt in either incident.
Security officers told Daily Voice the problem is bigger. Pile driving for the addition went on for a full year to prepare the site. The entire building was surveyed this month by drone photography, and in addition to the broken cornices there are cracks in the facade.
That would explain the mesh wrap up to the Rotunda. That section is the original, 1912 portion and is known for its beauty. The building has been expanded at least twice -- once when the connecting section joined the courthouse with the county Administration Building, which was constructed in 1929 -- and again in the late 1980s when the county moved across the street and the courthouse took over the space.
The building’s twisting corridors, uneven levels and hidden rooms mean even regulars get lost. But recent upgrades initiated by Simuldone include well-placed, easily read directional signs for the first time.
The courthouse is on the New Jersey and National Registers of historic places, and has been used as a location for television and movies including “Hackers,” “Before and After,” “Trial of the NY Yankees,” “Law and Order,” “Devil’s Advocate,” “Changing Lanes,” “Comedy Central” and “MTV”.
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