C

ourt House History

The Hunterdon County Courthouse is probably best known as the site of the infamous 1935 Lindbergh kidnapping trial, the Hunterdon County Courthouse (constructed in 1828) has statewide significance as one of the oldest surviving county courthouses in New Jersey, and is a fine example of temple-form Greek Revival architecture.

The courthouse is located in Flemington´s central business district, which is a participant in the New Jersey Main Street Program.

Although Hunterdon County was established in 1714, its first courthouse and jail was located in the center of Trenton. It was not until 1791 that the county Freeholders were permitted to erect a courthouse and "gaol" (jail) located within the area it served. The first courthouse was completed in the summer of 1791. The original structure burned in February of 1828, with arson as the suspected cause.

The present courthouse was rebuilt in 1828 on the same site, using some of the stone from the original building for the jail portion behind the courthouse. This jail was enlarged in 1925 to its present state. The jail was used continuously until 1985, when a new county jail was built.

The historic courthouse was in daily use until 1996, when a new justice center opened nearby. The most famous trial held in the courthouse, which took place in 1935, was that of Bruno Richard Hauptmann, the man accused of kidnapping and murdering the infant son of Charles Lindbergh. The courtroom was packed with hundreds of spectators and celebrities, as thousands more waited outside to hear the ringing of the bell in the cupola, which announced that a verdict had been reached by the jury.

The old courthouse today serves as a site for ceremonial occasions, and special events like the re-enactment of the Lindbergh-Hauptmann Trial Of The Century. Among the artifacts on display in the courtroom are the witness chair used during the Hauptmann trial, and hand-carved jury chairs dating back to 1828.