When retired Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justice Warren M. Silver took his seat with his fellow justices for the first time in 2005 at the historic Penobscot County Courthouse he said, “I thought it’d be a nicer chair.”

Just 4½ years later, Silver and his fellow justices were sitting in much more comfortable new chairs at Penobscot Judicial Center, the first modern courthouse in the state to be owned by the court system. Silver, now 69, of Dedham, oversaw the two-year construction of the $36.4 million project for the building that combined the former Bangor District Court and Penobscot County Superior Court and opened on Nov. 23, 2009.

Chief Justice Leigh I. Saufley on June 14 praised Silver’s work on the project in the well of the ceremonial courtroom on the second floor where his photographic portrait was unveiled.

“The building thanked him for all his hard work by locking him in a hallway the first month it was open,” she said at a short ceremony attended by a majority of Maine’s judges and a large contingent of local lawyers.

Since the court was established, retired justices donate their portraits to the court. They hang in courthouses closest to the judges’ hometowns. The gathering not only honored Silver but allowed the court to formally accept the portrait.

Saufley said that while on the court, Silver wrote 147 opinions and 20 dissents, all penned to oppose majority opinions written by the chief justice. Silver retired in December 2014.

Silver left a lucrative private practice — his most high-profile clients were Stephen and Tabitha King — to take a salary cut and serve on the state’s high court. He was nominated by then-Gov. John Baldacci and was the last lawyer to go on the court directly from private practice.

The chief justice said Silver’s influence on the court lives on behind the scenes. After oral arguments, justices gather and give a preliminary opinions as to whether the lower court’s opinion should be affirmed or vacated and why, Saufley explained.

“On a regular basis [Silver] would listen carefully, breath deeply, lean back and say: ‘I see this case somewhat differently,’” she said. “These occasions always made us stop and consider the justice more carefully. Now, on a regular basis, someone after oral arguments will say, ‘I am invoking Warren.’”

Silver has returned part time to private practice, sometimes representing the Kings, who did not attend Wednesday’s event.

“It was one of the greatest experiences of my life,” Silver said of his time on the bench.

A graduate of Presque Isle High School and Tufts University, Silver received his law degree from the American University College of Law in 1973 and set up his practice in Bangor four years later.