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John Adams Courthouse

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Suffolk County Courthouse and Tower
1894, 1910, George A. Clough; 1939, Desmond and Lord; 2004 renovation, CBT/Childs Bertman Tseckares. Pemberton Sq.

Two hulking elements define the former Suffolk County Courthouse. Here stood Cotton Hill, one of the three “mountains” that once crowned the Shawmut Peninsula and were cut down to fill the coves and expand the landmass. In the early nineteenth century, Pemberton Square rose here as a handsome group of town houses, later overwhelmed by the construction of the courthouse. George A. Clough, the first Boston city architect, won the competition to design a structure for the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the Boston Municipal Court, and the Social Law Library. He expanded the granite structure in 1910 with the fourth- and fifth-story mansard roof. The Great Hall, decorated by Albert Haberstroh and Sons with sculpture by Domingo Mora, was intended as public passage between Pemberton Square and the new addition to the Massachusetts Statehouse to the west. An Art Deco tower in granite and gray brick was added to the north when additional court space was needed. Recently renamed for the second president (part of the native-son boosterism inspired by David McCullough's biography of John Adams), the building has been renovated for the Supreme Judicial Court, Massachusetts Court of Appeals, and the Social Law Library.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "John Adams Courthouse", [Boston, 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, 53-53.

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