Once the tallest building in Brooklyn, the Temple Bar Building (44 Court Street) is now dwarfed by its giant neighbors. Built in 1901, only 3 years after the borough was consolidated into Greater New York, the 13-storey office building was to house that law firms that supported local courts. With the anticipated construction of the new Municipal Building across the street in the following decades, the area along Court, Joralemon, and Montague Streets soon saw a boom of large buildings, each surpassing the Temple Bar. Following a slow, steady demise in Brooklyn real estate, offices and firms fleeing to the ever-growing Manhattan, the Court Street area has seen a recent revival, with the 2005 rezoning to residential use. Just this past September, the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved the designation of the area as the Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District.
The building was designed by George Morse, a prominent Brooklyn architect of the time. As was common for the period, the building is in the Beaux-Arts style, and is capped with three copper cupolas on the street-facing corners. Each cupola is adorned with multiple human faces, male at the tips of the corners and female above the window pediments. The elaborate baroque ornament of the copula, however, is in contrast to the somewhat more reserved lower portion of the building. Some minor terra cotta ornament accentuates the horizontal divisions in the massing every two-to-four floors, but otherwise the building is clad in simple white brick. Even the rustication on the building’s corners is made from these bricks. The only other significant decorative elements are the arch and Corinthian columns that flank the central windows on the east façade, and the lion’s face, carved out of the granite base.