History of the Bergen County Courthouse
Bergen County's first courthouse was both a jail and a courthouse. It was located in what was then known as Quacksack. Today we would say the first courthouse was located about three blocks down Hudson Street, toward Route 46.
The second courthouse Bergen County had was burned by the British during the American Revolution. By 1780 the third Bergen County Courthouse was built at the Ponds in Oakland.
1786 heralded the return of the courthouse to Hackensack. This fourth courthouse was located about 100 feet off of Main Street on what is now Bridge Street.
In 1819, the fifth courthouse was built. Located exactly where the Justice Center now stands, it was built on land deeded to the county by Attorney Robert Campbell.
The fifth courthouse served the people for 91 years before construction on the sixth courthouse (currently the Rotunda building) began. Simultaneous construction of the courthouse and the jail (located to the left of the Court Street entrance today) began on July 6, 1910, when the cornerstone was laid. James Rielly Gordon was the architect of both buildings.
Bergen County Courthouse Today
Today, the Bergen County Justice Center is home to the Superior Court of Bergen County, the County Clerk, Prosecutor, Sheriff and Surrogate. It consists of three attached buildings (not counting the jail and Sheriff's Office): the Rotunda, the Administration Building and the new court annex.
Construction of the Rotunda was completed in 1912, while the Administration Building was added some twenty years later. The Rotunda is on the register of National Historic landmarks, which means that it can never be altered or torn down. Anyone looking at the marble and ornate stained glass in the Rotunda dome can understand the value of preserving the beauty of the building. There are several courtrooms in the Rotunda with hand painted murals adorning the walls. The distinct look of the Rotunda even caught the attention of Hollywood. Key scenes from the movies Hackers, Devil's Advocate and Before and After were filmed in Rotunda courtrooms.
The Justice Center is not the only piece of history in the immediate area. One of Washington's generals is buried across the street from the Rotunda in the First Reformed Church of Hackensack cemetery. It is said that Washington himself attended the funeral.