Haverhill District Court Readies for $8 Million Renovation

An $8 million renovation of the nearly 50-year-old Haverhill District Court is expected to get underway soon

The project involves improving handicapped accessibility, installing an elevator, replacing windows and roof, replacing heating and air conditioning systems, better sealing the building from the outdoor environment and addressing “deferred maintenance,” according to state documents. Meanwhile, plans to move the court’s civil case business to the second floor of Haverhill City Hall, “around December,” will also bring court security measures outside Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers, according to David S. Van Dam, chief of staff to Mayor James J. Fiorentini. He told WHAV the move will not affect normal city hall business flow.

“Security measures will move to outside the council chambers, but it won’t affect anyone doing business at city hall,” Van Dam said. He added the future presence of screening equipment and court officers within or outside council chambers will be “specific to court business.” Night meetings at the chambers, including city council and school committee meetings, will not be impacted.

The temporary court facility, including judge’s chambers, is expected to stay at city hall for about 12 months, Van Dam said.  Meanwhile, proceedings for criminal cases within the Haverhill district will move to Newburyport District Court during the renovation project.

Civil matters handled by the court include non-criminal traffic violation hearings, usually held before a clerk-magistrate.

Elkus Manfredi Architects of Boston undertook the original study of the court building’s needs.

Pre-urban renewal Haverhill District Court. (Photograph courtesy of David J. Connolly.)

Pre-urban renewal Haverhill District Court. (Photograph courtesy of David J. Connolly.)

The court was constructed in 1969 as part of the Pentucket Urban Renewal Project’s “Civic Center Amendment.” When the original courthouse was condemned by the Haverhill Housing Authority, plans introduced in 1963 called for its replacement to be built behind what is now Haverhill City Hall. However, Essex County and the Trustees of the Haverhill Public Library asked the urban renewal zone be expanded to cover the area between what is now Ginty Boulevard and Summer Street. The federal government approved the expansion of the demolition zone in 1965, sealing the fate of the original Haverhill Public Library further back on Summer Street.