Gala to Celebrate Courthouse Centennial

By Friends of Somerset County Culture & Heritage, Inc.
FRANKLIN – A black-tie dinner party at The Palace at Somerset Park on Davidson Avenue will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Historic Somerset County Courthouse.
The Friends of Somerset County Culture & Heritage, Inc., in cooperation with the county Cultural & Heritage Commission, will sponsor the gala event on Friday, April 3, from 6 to 11 p.m. Proceeds will benefit the Friends organization, which supports arts, culture and history endeavors throughout the county.
Chairing the county’s courthouse centennial celebration is Donald N. Esposito, vice chairman of the Cultural & Heritage Commission. Dinner chairwoman is Sallie (Mrs. Charles G. L.) de Barzca, the commission’s programs coordinator.
The Honorary Committee for the dinner includes Chairman Christopher “Kip” Forbes as well as State Sen. and Mrs. Christopher “Kip” Bateman, Congressman and Mrs. Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, Albert R. Gamper, Jr., Congressman Rush Holt, Congressman Leonard Lance and his wife, Heidi Rohrbach, Michael J. Mills, David W. Trombadore and former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman.
Corporate and VIP sponsor levels include Platinum ($5,000), Gold ($3,000) and Silver ($2,000). Tickets also are available at the Benefactor ($450), Sponsor ($350) and Subscriber ($250) levels. The Platinum, Gold and Silver sponsorships include preferred seating as well as program ads; the Benefactor tickets include preferred seating and a program listing. Sponsors also will receive a program listing. General seating is available at the Subscriber level.
Deadline for general-seating reservations is March 16. Deadline for program-ad layouts is Feb. 20. For details and a sponsor form, contact the Rev. John Graf, Jr., sponsor/program coordinator, at (908) 781-0470 or [email protected]
The first Somerset County Courthouse was built in 1714 at Six Mile Run, now Franklin Park, and was destroyed by fire in 1737. The second courthouse was built in the Borough of Millstone and was burned by the British, led by Lt. Col. John Simcoe, in 1779 during the Revolutionary War. 
The third courthouse was built in Somerville in 1782 and was used as a place of worship by the Dutch Reformed Church for about six years. The fourth courthouse was built on the current courthouse site in 1799; it was enlarged in 1849. When that building had outlived its usefulness, the Board of Freeholders commissioned architects James Riely Gordon, Tracy & Swartwout to design a new one.
The current Historic Courthouse, the county’s fifth, was commissioned in 1905. In 1906, the Freeholders authorized the sale of the old courthouse, and what could not be sold was demolished. Construction began in 1907. The cornerstone was laid the same year, and the building was formally dedicated on April 3, 1909.