The West Village courthouse inspired by a castle

The fantastical Jefferson Market building—with its turrets, gables, stained glass, and incredible clock tower—started out in 1877 as a courthouse and jail (with a notorious women’s prison in a long-gone building behind it).

It flirted with demolition in the 1950s before being recycled into a branch of the New York Public Library.


This is all old news to fans of gothic-inspired New York architecture. But what isn’t as well-known is that the building was apparently inspired by a German castle—called Neuschwanstein, former home of Bavaria’s King Ludwig II.


The AIA Guide to New York City calls Jefferson Market a “mock Neuscshwansteinian assemblage,” while New York Architecture has compiled some information on the castle, described as “neo-late romanesque.”

Hmm, see a resemblance?

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7 Responses to “The West Village courthouse inspired by a castle”

  1. Andrew Porter Says:

    Ironically, it was originally supposed to be torn down in order to expand the Art Deco Women’s House of Detention, next door, in the 1960s.

  2. Joe R Says:

    “Mad” King Ludwig built several castles. Besides the fabulous Jefferson Market Building, they were the inspiration for the Fantasy Land castles at Disneyland and Disney World.

  3. One57 gets more interior renderings, Lightstone rental in LIC to begin leasing soon … and more – Says:

    […] two hours earlier [NYT] 13. German castle was the muse for West Village courthouse’s design [Ephemeral New York] 14. Sellers ask $20-plus million for Park City, Utah, mansions […]

  4. chrchr Says:

    Construction on Neuschwanstein started in the mid-1870s and wasn’t complete until the mid-1880s. But looks more Ruskinian than Neuschwansteinian to me, anyways….

  5. The old man and the pelican on a Village fountain | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] The castle-like exterior features “steeply sloping roofs, gables, pinnacles, Venetian Gothic embellishments, and an intricate tower and clock,” as the AIA Guide to New York City puts it. […]

  6. A Houston Street park inspired by a Paris palace | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] It’s not the first time New York architects were inspired by Europe; the Bronx’s main thoroughfare pays homage to the Champs-Elysees, while Jefferson Market courthouse takes a Bavarian castle as its inspiration. […]

  7. Looking down Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Sixth Avenue at West 10th Street looks about the same today, right? Well, except for the notorious women’s prison building hiding behind the Jefferson Market Courthouse turned Library. […]

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