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Richmond County


History

The Richmond County Court House located at 18 Richmond Terrace on Staten Island is an Italian Renaissance structure with a Greek Revival portico overlooking the harbor and skyline of New York. The Renaissance Revival architectural style of the court house was designed by Carrere & Hastings, the firm of architects who had earlier designed the neighboring Borough Hall as well as the New York Public Library in Manhattan. Construction of the court house commenced on December 27, 1913; and delayed by World War I, it was formally opened on November 3, 1919. The court house in St. George was the fifth county court house; the fourth county court house (now part of HistoricRichmond Town) had been in use 80 years. When the court house in Richmondtown was built, there were only about 9,000 people living in Richmond County. Originally, the new court house housed Supreme Court Justice Frank S. Gannon and the Surrogate's Court Judge J. Harry Tiernan who acted also as a justice of the City Court. The District Attorney and the County Clerk also had offices in the court house. The county records were installed there January 3, 1920, and the Supreme Court Library was founded in it on February 16, 1920.

Statue of Frank PauloOver ninety years later the Richmond County Supreme Court still occupies 18 Richmond Terrace. However, like its predecessor in Richmondtown, the fifth county court house had grown too small. Since the opening of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in 1964, the population of Richmond County has doubled. In 1920 around the time that the court house in St. George opened, the population of Richmond County was 116,531; in 2010 the U.S. Census reported that the population of Richmond County was 468,730. Since 1990 Richmond County has been the fastest growing county in New York State. In 1920 besides the Surrogate there was only one Supreme Court justice in the Richmond County Court House. Today, besides the Surrogate’s chambers there are 11 justices of the Supreme Court with chambers not only at 18 Richmond Terrace but at 130 Stuyvesant Place and 10 Richmond Terrace. In addition, the Hon. William F. Mastro of the Appellate Division - Second Judicial Department has his chambers at 60 Bay Street. The County Clerk also moved his office and the county records into 130 Stuyvesant Place in 1999. And the District Attorney also relocated to 130 Stuyvesant Place on January 1, 2001 after having left 18 Richmond Terrace on July 1, 1979. Finally, the Supreme Court Library after leaving 18 Richmond Terrace in March 2000 moved in August 2010 into 25 Hyatt Street across the street from the new court house under construction.

–History by Philip Klingle, Principal Law Librarian