Maitland Courthouse | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Maitland Courthouse

Item details

Name of item: Maitland Courthouse
Other name/s: West Maitland Courthouse
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Law Enforcement
Category: Courthouse
Primary address: High Street and Semphill Street, Maitland, NSW 2320
Local govt. area: Maitland
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
High Street and Semphill StreetMaitlandMaitland  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Attorney General's DepartmentState Government 

Statement of significance:

Maitland Courthouse has been associated with the provision of law and justice in the Hunter area since 1897. The extant building is the second courthouse built in the town, which has been an important centre for administration and justice in the Hunter area since the first half of the nineteenth century.
The scale and grandeur of Maitland Courthouse is symbolic of the growing confidence in regional centres during the nineteenth century due to expansions in mining and agriculture. While the town was overtaken by Newcastle in terms of physical size and population by the twentieth century, Maitland has remained an important regional town.

Maitland Courthouse demonstrates the shift from Victorian Classical to Federation architectural styles in public buildings in NSW. The combination of classical features, such as the central clock tower and sandstone entrance, and Federation features, such as the use of face brick and sandstone, demonstrates the transition of public building design by the Government Architect's Branch from the grand, classical-influenced works under James Barnet to a less monumental style under Walter Liberty Vernon with a clarity rare among courthouses in NSW.

Maitland Courthouse is of State significance.
Date significance updated: 25 Oct 10
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Designer/Maker: WL Vernon
Construction years: 1895-1897
Physical description: Maitland Courthouse is an outstanding building designed during the transition from Victorian to Federation architectural styles. It is Victorian Italianate in form, style and detailing and built using Federation materials such as face red brick with contrasting sandstone trim. The building complex is prominently located in the main business street. The clock tower mounted on the courthouse roof is a landmark within the district. The courtroom is accessed through a formal colonnaded portico. Typical Italianate sandstone detailing decorates the building.
Other accommodation: General office, waiting room, prisoner access to courtroom, toilets.
Construction: The courthouse is constructed in red face brick with contrasting sandstone decorative detailing. The hipped and gabled roofs are clad in slate tiles.
Interior materials: Joinery, plaster
Exterior materials: Brick, sandstone, slate.
(Schwager Brooks 1993)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good. (March 2007)
Good. Some weathering to exterior sandstone walls. Evidence of some movement and cracking in building structure. Evidence of minor water entry and damage from roof guttering. Wear and deterioration to painted interior surfaces (BGIS Annual Site Audit, 2017).
Date condition updated:13 May 10
Modifications and dates: Minor internal alterations.
2017: Repairs to guttering.
Current use: Courthouse
Former use: Courthouse

History

Historical notes: Maitland Courthouse was completed in 1897 to the design of Colonial Architect Walter Liberty Vernon.

Maitland was established in 1829 when surveyor Thomas Mitchell laid out the town and named it in honour of Sir Peregrine Maitland, a hero of the Napoleonic wars. Courts were held in Maitland from as early as 1840 in leased premises. The first purpose-built courthouse was constructed in 1858 following a design by Mortimer Lewis Junior.

For much of the nineteenth century, Maitland was the largest town in the Hunter. A larger courthouse was soon needed to serve the growing population. In 1885 a site was purchased for the construction of a new courthouse, but construction was delayed for 10 years. The current courthouse was designed by Vernon in 1895 and completed in 1897.

The building was used as a combined courthouse and police station until 1986. The district court sits at Maitland Courthouse.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Civic centre-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Administration of justice-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Police-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups -

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Maitland Courthouse has been associated with the provision of law and justice in the Hunter area since 1897. The extant building is the second courthouse built in the town, which has been an important centre for administration and justice in the Hunter area since the first half of the nineteenth century. The town also contained a gaol.

The scale and grandeur of Maitland Courthouse is symbolic of the growing confidence in regional centres during the nineteenth century due to expansions in mining and agriculture. While the town was overtaken by Newcastle in terms of physical size and population by the twentieth century, Maitland has remained an important regional town. The District Court continues to sit at Maitland.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Maitland Courthouse is associated with Walter Liberty Vernon, Government Architect of New South Wales from 1890-1911.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Maitland Courthouse is an outstanding example of nineteenth-century courthouses and demonstrates both Victorian Italianate and Federation architectural styles. The front of the building features an oversized central clocktower and an elaborate, arched, sandstone entrance.
The courthouse is a landmark building in Maitland.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Maitland Courthouse is likely to have significance for the local community as a long-standing civic institution of the town and Hunter area.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Maitland Courthouse demonstrates the shift from Victorian to Federation architectural styles with a clarity that is rare amongst courthouses in NSW. The building demonstrates the transition of public building design by the Government Architect's Branch from the grand, classical-influenced works under James Barnet to a less monumental style under Walter Liberty Vernon.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Maitland Courthouse is an unusual example of courthouses designed by Government Architect Walter Liberty Vernon and is broadly representative of courthouses built at the turn of the nineteenth century in New South Wales.
Integrity/Intactness: Highly intact with a high level of integrity internally and externally.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage registerDept. of Justice & Att. General S170 Register 2011    

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenNSW Department of Commerce2007Condition Assessments GAP Analysis Court House Report: Maitland
WrittenNSW Department of Public Works and Services West Maitland Courthouse Conservation Plan
WrittenSchwager Brooks and Partners Pty Ltd1993Department of Courts Administration: Preliminary Heritage and Conservation Register
WrittenUnknown Maitland Court House - Historical Notes

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 3080010


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