Norfolk County Courthouse

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Norfolk County Courthouse
Norfolk County Courthouse is located in Massachusetts
Norfolk County Courthouse
Norfolk County Courthouse is located in the US
Norfolk County Courthouse
Location Dedham, Massachusetts
Coordinates 42°14′55″N 71°10′36″W / 42.24861°N 71.17667°W / 42.24861; -71.17667Coordinates: 42°14′55″N 71°10′36″W / 42.24861°N 71.17667°W / 42.24861; -71.17667
Built 1827
Architect Willard,Solomon
Architectural style Greek Revival
NRHP Reference #


Significant dates
Added to NRHP November 28, 1972
Designated NHL November 28, 1972

The Norfolk County Courthouse is a National Historic Landmark at 650 High Street in Dedham, Massachusetts. It currently houses the Norfolk County Superior Court. It is significant as a well-preserved Greek Revival courthouse of the 1820s, and as the site a century later of the famous Sacco-Vanzetti trial. The building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1972, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The original portion of the courthouse was built in 1827 by a noted Boston builder, Solomon Willard. It was a basic rectangular granite-walled structure, with Greek-temple porticos at either end. In 1863 the building was enlarged, adding wings to the left and right of the north (main) facade, which are ornamented with corner pilasters, and were done with sensitivity to the original design. A dome was also added at that time; it would be replaced during further enlargements in the 1890s. Following plans developed by Gridley Bryant, the building was enlarged to its present H-shaped configuration, adding wings to the southern facade that matched those added in 1863 to the north. The 1863 dome was replaced at that time with the present one, and the interior of the building was given a decorative treatment with Greek motifs.[2]

In May 1920 two Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were arrested for a robbery that had taken place in South Braintree on April 20. In a highly charged trial which took place in this building, the two men proclaimed their innocence, and their leftist political views became a major element of the case. The two men were convicted and sentenced to death, causing an international outcry. After six years of legal wrangling, the two men were electrocuted in 1927.[2]

The building has been relatively little altered since the time of the trial. Its most notable change is the removal from the courtroom of the cages that held the prisoners.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b c "NHL nomination for Norfolk County Courthouse" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2014-05-26.