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Norfolk County Court Buildings

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High St.
  • Norfolk County Courthouse (Peter Vanderwarker or Antonina Smith)

Facing each other across High Street, three structures built for Norfolk County dominate the center of Dedham. Solomon Willard, a Boston architect, sculptor, and stonemason best known for the Bunker Hill Monument (see CH6), designed the Courthouse (650 High Street) in 1825–1827 as a rectangular structure with Tuscan porticos at each end, similar in configuration to his Suffolk County Courthouse (GC20) in Boston built at the same time. In 1860–1861 Gridley J. F. Bryant enlarged the courthouse by adding two wings and a dome to the north end of Willard's temple front. In a second major expansion in 1891–1894, Wait and Cutler added two wings to the south half of the building. This little-known firm was chosen based on their work on the Middlesex County Courthouse (see EC13) in Cambridge. At the same time the dome was raised to create a more monumental crown for the entire complex. The 1890s complete remodeling of the interior left no evidence of the early structure or its 1860 addition.

Directly opposite the Courthouse stands the Registry of Deeds and Land Court (649 High Street), built in 1903–1905 on the site of the old Fisher Ames House. Peabody and Stearns designed a building with a classical portico compatible with the Courthouse, yet clearly subservient in terms of county facilities. On the east of the Registry, Cram and Ferguson added the District Court (631 High Street) in 1938. Constructed of Indiana limestone, brick, and granite, this building completes the ensemble of classical-styled county buildings, but with more streamlined forms typical of its age.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "Norfolk County Court Buildings", [Dedham, Massachusetts], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Massachusetts

Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, Keith N. Morgan, with Richard M. Candee, Naomi Miller, Roger G. Reed, and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, 538-538.

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