Maryborough Court House | Environment, land and water | Queensland Government

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Maryborough Court House

  • 600714
  • Richmond Street, Maryborough


Also known as
Maryborough Court House and Government Offices; Maryborough Courthouse
State Heritage
Register status
Date entered
21 October 1992
Law/order, immigration, customs, quarantine: Courthouse—magistrates/court of petty sessions
7.1 Maintaining order: Policing and maintaining law and order
7.2 Maintaining order: Government and public administration
Stanley, Francis Drummond Greville
Construction period
1877–1942, Maryborough Court House (1877 - 1942)
Historical period
1870s–1890s Late 19th century


Richmond Street, Maryborough
Fraser Coast Regional Council
-25.53790888, 152.70503801


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Criterion AThe place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of Queensland’s history.

The Maryborough Court House, constructed in 1877, demonstrates the growth of Maryborough in the 1860s and 1870s as a result of the discovery of gold in Gympie, for which Maryborough became the principal port. The building demonstrates the early civic history of Maryborough and has special social value for the community for its long and continued use as a public building.

Criterion DThe place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of cultural places.

The Court House is a good example of a Queensland court house of the nineteenth century, with classical architectural influences, adapted to the sub-tropical Maryborough climate. The layout and form of the building are characteristic of a late nineteenth century court house.

Criterion EThe place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

The building has aesthetic significance as a well composed Maryborough landmark with inherent formal qualities, symmetrical massing and repetitive rhythmic detailing which combine to produce a strong composition in its Queens Park setting which contributes to its aesthetic value. The building forms an integral component of a civic precinct with the adjacent State Government Offices, which although later, are clearly designed to harmonise with the Court House.

Criterion HThe place has a special association with the life or work of a particular person, group or organisation of importance in Queensland’s history.

The Court House has special associations with its designer, FDG Stanley who was Queensland's most prolific Colonial Architect.


The Maryborough Court House was constructed in 1877 to the design of the then Colonial Architect, FDG Stanley for use as both a court house and government office block. The building is the second Maryborough Court House replacing an earlier 1860s building constructed on another site.

The original township of Maryborough was situated, not in its current place, but on the north of the Mary River, after wharves were established in 1847-8, to provide transport for wool from sheep stations on the Burnett River. In 1852 the growing town was gradually transferred further south where ships were better able to navigate the river. Development followed and by March 1861, Maryborough was declared a municipality and Henry Palmer was appointed as the first Mayor.

During the late 1860s and 1870s Maryborough developed rapidly as the port of the nearby gold rushes in the Gympie area. The first circuit court hearings were held in local hotels from the late 1850s. In about 1856 a permanent court house and lockup for Maryborough were designed by Alexander Dawson, Colonial Architect of New South Wales. By 1857 the New South Wales Government voted that the sum of £1000 be spent on the erection of a court house and lockup, but it seems this was not completed until after Separation in the early 1860s and seems to be unattributable to Alexander Dawson. These brick buildings, supposedly the first brick structures in Maryborough, were built on the corner of Kent and Adelaide Streets, on the site of the present Town Hall, which had been reserved for court house use in early Maryborough surveys. Repairs and additions were made to these buildings in 1871 but, soon after, plans were being prepared for a new court house. This was to be constructed on another site several blocks to the east of the first site, which had become available in 1874 following the relocation of the emigration barracks and the consequent extension of the adjacent Queens Park.

FDG Stanley, the Colonial Architect of Queensland was responsible for the design of the new building. Stanley arrived in Queensland in 1861 from Scotland where he trained. He was appointed to the Office of the Colonial Architect in 1863 as a clerk of works and in 1872 succeeded Charles Tiffin as the Colonial Architect. Prior to being asked to design the Maryborough Court House, Stanley was already experienced in the design of large public buildings, although this was early in his prolific career in Queensland.

Stanley conceived the Maryborough Court House as a double storeyed, arcaded pavilion with towers at each corner, sited between Queens Park and the adjacent street. The footprint of the building was set well back from Wharf Street providing space for a garden forecourt with Jacaranda trees enhancing the principal entrance. Stanley write a memo about his proposal for the Court House in September 1875;

the design has been arranged so as to place offices of the Department of Roads, Public Lands and Survey on the ground floor as being more readily accessible from the street, and the courts and offices associated therewith on the upper floor as being removed from noise and as being in a better position as regards ventilation. The material to be employed is brick on stone foundations faced in cement when not covered by verandahs; the roof to be slated and the internal finishings of a plain substantial character.

The necessity of segregating the top and bottom floors caused Stanley to provide discrete stair halls at each end of the pavilion within the two corner towers nearest the park, at the rear of the building, to which access was provided from the north eastern verandah. The northern stair gave access for judges and barristers and the eastern stair was provided for prisoners escorted by police and the public.

The Maryborough Court House was constructed for about £7345 after Stanley's initial estimation of about £5500. Tenders were called on 20 October 1875 and on 19 November 1876 the lowest tender of local contractor, John Thomas Annear was accepted who undertook to complete the building within twelve months. The building was occupied, at least partially, by August 1877.

Stanley remained in the position of Colonial Architect for effectively ten years, from 1871 until 1881, during which time and with the help of his staff he produced many fine public buildings throughout Queensland, including several Maryborough buildings. The former court house was retained at its original site and became used as a quarters for police and was demolished to make way for the construction of the new Town Hall in 1908.

Many alterations have occurred since construction within the Court House precinct affecting both the setting and the building fabric. Firstly, stables were added by 1878. Very soon after construction another stair was built in the part of the south east verandah and for dedicated public use, where previously they were sharing the prisoner's stair. During the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century window shades were added, repair and repainting work was done and additional closets were built.

The addition of State Government Offices in 1939 between Wharf Street and the building, replaced the established garden and dramatically altered the context of the building. The offices already provided for government departments in the ground floor of the court house became inadequate and more floor space was needed and therefore a decision was made to erect a new building. This was in line with government policy for encouraging capital works in the 1930s to overcome the effect of the 1929 depression.

The building was designed by the Department of Public Works and two staff members seem to have been involved on the project. Two drawings of the proposed building were prepared. The first set was drawn by GR Beveridge and included elevations, ceiling and roof plans and general layouts of the site and the other, by RC Nowland is a detailed floor plan. Because the construction of the new offices solved problems of space in the court house, the court house was remodelled internally at the same time. This remodelling occurred in 1942 at a cost of £4851 and involved limiting access to Richmond Street, removing internal partitions on the ground floor level and removing six fireplaces. As well new stairs were constructed in three of the four corners of the building and a stables was demolished to make way for an air raid shelter.


The Maryborough Court House is a two storeyed rendered brick building, situated on the edge of Queens Park, facing Richmond Street and addressing the principal façade of Customs House across Richmond Street.

The building has a rectangular shaped floor plan and a corrugated iron clad gabled roof. Lining the façades of the building are double storeyed verandahs, or loggias, which are recessed between rusticated corner pavilion towers. The verandahs are semi enclosed on the ground floor by a light timber framed arcade supported on timber columns. In the open spandrels of the arches are circular timber motifs. The upper level of the verandah comprises a number of regularly spaced timber posts with cross braced timber balustrading. The timber posts support a skillion awning which has a wide facia board where decorative timber brackets are aligned with the posts below. Above the verandah on the two short sides of the building are three semi circular openings above which is the gabled end of the roof. Centrally located on the edge of the verandah of the ground floor of the long elevations of the building, facing the park and the State Government Offices, are masonry pavilion entrances with round arched entrances.

The square planned corner pavilion towers between which the verandahs are placed, are rusticated at ground floor level with a round arched opening on each face, and smooth rendered on the first floor with a group of three round arched openings. Above these openings is a substantial cornice supported on closely spaced timber brackets. Above this moulding is a simple corniced parapet concealing the roofs of the pavilions. The parapet has a central moulded panel of interlocking circles.

The building was designed to accommodate offices on the ground floor and a court room and associated office space on the upper floor. The ground floor is presently essentially open plan with offices at the rear of the floor. The ground floor has a plaster ceiling with darkly stained timber grid framing. Regularly throughout the open section of the floor are substantial square planned stop chamfered rendered masonry columns. The rear offices are formed with plaster rendered walls and feature similar coffered ceiling framing.

The upper floor is accessed via a concrete stair in the southern tower, dating from the early 1940s. An open balcony on the first floor acts as an entrance vestibule to the court room which is entered via a double timber door. The court room is a large open plan room fitted with nineteenth century furniture. The original ceiling has been concealed with a suspended grid ceiling, housing lighting and other services. The room is naturally lit with a number of large windows and french lights opening onto the adjacent verandahs. Above these openings are high level semi-circular windows which sit on a string course lining the room. The walls are painted and bagged brickwork with a plaster skirting.

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Location of Maryborough Court House within Queensland
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated
20 January 2016
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