Surrogate’s Court

1865-1899CivicManhattan

31 Chambers Street, New York, NY, United States

ARCHITECTS
John R. Thomas; Horgan & Slattery

BUILT 1907

RESTORED BY Swanke Hayden Connell Architects

INTERIOR DESIGNATED 1976

DESIGNATED AREAS
Five interior floors, including staircases, corridors and courtrooms

Surrogates1

Far more elaborate than their functions require, these interiors were designed by John Thomas for a proposed new City Hall. When that plan was cancelled, the architect revised his design for the new Hall of Records. After Thomas’ death, Horgan & Slattery completed the building, though retaining the original design, considered his masterpiece. In 1962, the building was renamed the Surrogate’s Court, which occupies the upper-level courtrooms.

To secure its future in the face of repeated proposals to redesign the civic center, the interiors were designated in 1976, the nation’s Bicentennial year. That landmark status, however, has not prevented Surrogate’s Court’s deterioration over the years, as a result of insufficient attention to ongoing maintenance and some unfortunate renovations of the office areas. Recently, Swanke Hayden Connell completed some necessary upgrades and repairs –a hopeful sign of renewed interest and investment in one of New York’s grandest civic spaces.

Photographs by Larry Lederman © All rights reserved