The Berkshire Courthouse is a disused courthouse located in the northeast United States. It is slated for rehabilitation into apartments and retail.


History

Early courthouses in Berkshire were built in 1733, 1751 and 1802. 5 Ammi B. Young was selected to design a new courthouse and in 1843, construction of a Greek Revival style facility began. 8 The new building, flanked with six large granite columns, 5 7 was finished in 1845 for $100,000 by Horatio Tower, who served as a carpenter, and David Woodward, who served as a mason.

An addition to the southwest corner of the courthouse, designed in the Green Revival and Mid-Victorian style by Stephen C. Earle, was built in 1878. 5 7

Continued growth of the county necessitated a  major expansion and remodeling of the Berkshire Courthouse in 1898 and 1899. 8 A design competition was held in 1897, with one of the competition’s terms being that the existing granite columns be kept. Among the entrants were Lucius W. Briggs; Earle & Fisher; Fuller, Delano & Frest; George Clemence; Robert Allen Cook; and Andrews, Jaques & Rantoul.

Andrews, Jaques & Rantoul was selected as the winner of the competition. 8 Their design of the remodeling and expansion incorporated many of the design elements of the original courthouse, the removal of the courthouse portico, and the construction of a new facade along Main Street. The original six columns were reused, flanked by two new columns.

A 70,000 square-foot 9 Mid-Century annex on the west side of the courthouse was designed by Stuart W. Briggs and Cornelius W. Buckley 6 7 and constructed by S. Volpe and Company in 1956. 6

Facing an outdated facility and finding a lack of space to expand, court activities moved down Main Street in 2007 to the new Worcester Trial Courts building. 9 The law library moved out in 2009.

Closure

Post-closure, the annex’s courtrooms were used in the shooting of the movie The Surrogates, starring Bruce Willis. 9

The state tried to seek a buyer for the unique building but was unsuccessful. 4 On January 19, 2011, the state hired Berman Auctions in an attempt to auction the building to a capable buyer. The minimum bid required was set at $100,000 with the bidder demonstrating that it would be able to raise more than $10 million in financing. 9 The auction was unsuccessful.

The city purchased the vacant courthouse from the state for $1 on August 6, 2014. 2

As part of the city’s purchase of the property, the state agreed to provide a $3 million grant for environmental remediation work, which included asbestos removal. 2

The remediation work bid was awarded to Air Quality Experts in September 2015. 7 Site work commenced in October and by the end of July 2016, the project was mostly completed. It was determined that the remaining asbestos containing items could not be abated further, such as window systems and roofing materials, until such time that a property transfer occurred to allow for coordination with any future building improvements.

In March 2015, the city reached an agreement to sell the former Berkshire Courthouse to Brady Sullivan Properties of New Hampshire for $1.2 million. 2 3 The state and city planned to split the proceeds. Brady Sullivan placed a deposit of $120,000 on the property. 1

The real estate company proposed converting the building into 15 market rate apartments and 3,000 square-feet of retail space. 1 2 3 Brady Sullivan indicated there was no plan to seek public funding for the project, instead seeking historic tax credits for the rehabilitation of the building. 2 3 But in December 2016, the company unexpectedly pulled out of the deal. 1

In June 2017, it was announced that Trinity Financial of Boston was acquiring the former courthouse from the city for $1.3 million. 1 4 Trinity proposed converting the complex into 125 residential units at a cost of $53 million. The building will also contain a “destination retail anchor.” 4 Half of the units would be market rate while the others would be workforce housing with a “creative economy focus.” 1 4

Construction is slated to begin in fall 2018 with a completion date of mid-2020. 1

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