The Public Is Invited To Attend a Ceremony of Civic Pride & Appreciation
Naming the Rotunda of the County Justice William Brennan Court House
In Honor of Theodore Conrad
“The Father of Preservation” In Hudson County
On Thursday, November 29, beginning at 7PM, a public ceremony will be
held in the Rotunda of the Hudson County Justice William J. Brennan
Court House to officially mark the renaming of the Rotunda as the
Theodore Conrad Rotunda. (The Court House is located at the corner of
Newark and Baldwin Avenues in Jersey City.)
A tour of the Court House will be given following the ceremony.
The Hudson County Court House, which is one of the finest examples of
Beaux Art architecture in the United States and includes a stunning
collection of mural art from some of the best American artists of the
early 20th century, was closed and slated for demolition in the
mid-1960s. Theodore Conrad was the Jersey City architect-turned-civic
activist who spearheaded the long fight that ultimately saved the
landmark building from demolition and led to its acclaimed restoration
In the course of that effort, Ted and the organization he headed, the
Citizens Committee of Hudson County, collected 20,000 signatures on a
petition asking that the Court House be saved, brought out hundreds of
supporters to each of many hearings on the Court House’s fate, built
wide public support for saving the landmark, and secured the Court
House’s listing on the then-new National Register of Historic Places.
This listing was the crucial factor that ultimately blocked the
This battle to save the Court House was a defining moment in Hudson
County activism, and set the mold for all of the local preservation
battles that came after, from the Loew’s Theatre to the Reservoir, to
the Embankment, and more.
Mr. Conrad was born on Ogden Avenue in Jersey City and ran a
successful architectural model making business in the Heights; he
contributed to the designs of many of the landmark building projects
of mid-20th Century America, including Lever House, the Seagram
Building and John F. Kennedy’s gravesite. He was recognized by the
American Institute of architects for his pioneering development of
model making techniques, and was described by the New York Times in an
article of July 28, 1974 as “the dean of the (architectural) model
makers”. Yet despite his success, Ted never moved “up and out” of
Ted passionately believed that Hudson County’s quality of life would
be greatly impacted by two factors: a pride of place and sense of
perspective that comes with the understanding of local history; and
also the character and quality of our built environment, as determined
by the landmarks we chose to preserve, the intelligence of planning
for new construction and growth, and the amount of open space we
provided for our citizens to enjoy.
Beginning in the 1960s, Ted Conrad devoted much of his time to
preserving Hudson County landmarks, promoting appreciation of local
history and otherwise improving our quality of life. Among his
contributions, in addition to saving the Court House, Ted -
Organized the Riverview Neighborhood Association;
Was a leader, along with Morris Pesin, of the effort that created
Liberty State Park;
Was a founder of Friends of the Loew’s;
Turned a portion of his Ogden Avenue shop into a small museum of local
Was a leading activist on a wide variety of civic issues.
The Jersey Journal described Ted Conrad as “Jersey City’s foremost
historic preservationist” in a front page story at the time of his
death at the age of 84 in August, 1994.
But even more than this, Ted Conrad helped create a civic
consciousness in Hudson County, and contributed to a legacy of civic
activism that continues today.
The ceremony at the Court House on November 29 will begin at 7PM.
Local activists as well as officials are expected to speak about Mr.
Conrad’s legacy. The ceremony is open to the public, who are invited
For more information, call (201) 963-0408.