Berry Courthouse | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Berry Courthouse

Item details

Name of item: Berry Courthouse
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Law Enforcement
Category: Courthouse
Location: Lat: -34.7774077537 Long: 150.6933026840
Primary address: 58 Victoria Street, Berry, NSW 2535
Local govt. area: Shoalhaven
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Nowra
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT2 DP199995
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
58 Victoria StreetBerryShoalhaven  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Shoalhaven City CouncilLocal Government 

Statement of significance:

Berry Courthouse is of historic significance at a State level as it operated uninterrupted as a courthouse from 1891 to 1988 and as such reflects the early history of governance and law and order in the region and NSW.

As well as its historic association with the Berry family, early colonial entrepreneurs and developers, it has added historic significance through its association with James Barnet. The Berry Courthouse was one of the last public buildings Barnet designed in his role as Colonial Architect. The courthouse is further associated with Walter Liberty Vernon the next Government Architect who supervised the construction of the building.

The Berry courthouse gains its aesthetic significance as an example of a small scale rural courthouse designed in the Classical Academic style. Its fine, elegant design embodies Barnet's late 19th century concepts of courthouse architecture. Set in its distinctive landscape it is composed as an imposing and austere structure, a land mark for the township which announces its function as the centre of justice in the township.

The Courthouse retains evidence of the construction methods of the time many of which are no longer commonly practised, including the making of Royal Arms in NSW. This coupled with its value as an intact architectural example of the work the great 19th century architect, James Barnet, also contribute to its value as a research resource. (Phoenix 2000 and HO 2005)
Date significance updated: 17 Feb 05
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: James Barnet
Builder/Maker: Antonio and Peter Ettinghausen
Construction years: 1890-1891
Physical description: The courthouse is positioned in the centre of its block of land, isolated from surrounding buildings. It is well set back in its landscaped surrounds and is a simple, representative courthouse building constructed of local materials, rendered inside and out, with fine cedar fittings in the Victorian Classical Academic style.

Four classical columns of modified Doric form (without entasis) support the portico, which features a wrought iron railing of unusual design. The Royal Coat of Arms sits inside the expression of the pediment above three small rectangular clerestory windows which reflect the division of the facade into three bays. Simple overhung sash windows light the interior; four on either side and one on either side of the main entrance. A simple moulded stringcourse links the line of the portico/porch to the side walls and minor structures to the rear

Building materials used in the Courthouse include the dressed sandstone detailing, brick chimney details and timber panelled doors and timber double hung on the exterior. Interior elements include the timber panel joinery details of the original building, original timber doors, architraves, oval louvred vent.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good to very good condition. The building has been well maintained throughout it’s life as a courthouse and restorative work completed in 2000- 2001 included repair of slate entrance steps, removal of intrusive interior additions.
Date condition updated:20 Jan 05
Modifications and dates: Building completed in 1891 at a cost of 1658 pounds.

1.circa 1960m a new Judges' bench and canopy were installed
2. Prior to auction 1994 most of interior moveable fittings and some joinery were removed including jury box, seating and railings
3. 1995- 1999 some remaining interior fittings removed
4. Cyclone mesh fence installed on perimeter of site circa 1960s.
5. Substantial new garden plantings and landscaping including boundary hedge, two rectangular pools at front, paths, and trees have been undertaken as part of the adaptive reuse plan for Berry Courthouse Committee . All works have been assessed favourably in terms of heritage impact.
Further information: xeriscape garden is proposed for the west and south of the site.
Current use: Museum
Former use: 1891 - 1988 Courthouse

History

Historical notes: The land for the Berry Courthouse was offered as a gift by David Berry sometime prior to July 1889. The offer was conditional on a signed agreement that the building would be of aa scale considered appropriate by David Berry. The Department of Justice considered Mr Berry's ideas be too grand and the donation of land was delayed. Just before he died in 1889 Berry finally signed the deed of conveyance transfering ownership of the land to the Government.By July 1889 an amount of (Pounds)1500 had been approved for the new Courthouse and the paperwork forwarded to Public Works.

The Courthouse design has been attributed to James Barnet who was Colonial Architect in 1889 but no original drawings can be located. The courthouse appears to have been built in the centre of the site, as were most of Barnet's designs "isolated from surrounding buildings and well set back with plenty of grounds and with landscaping to match .."

Tenders for the construction of the Courthouse were invited and advertised in the Government Gazette on 21st March 1890. and on 17 June 1890 the tender ((Pounds)1593 10 00) of A & P. Ettinghausen was accepted. Antonio and Peter Ettinghausen were local tradesmen and Peter was also the local undertaker, so it is quite possible that he was the partner responsible for the fine cedar fittings and woodwork.

Progress of the building was recorded in The Shoalhaven News of 15th August 1891:

'The new courthouse, erected by townsman Ettinghausen, will be ready for occupation in a few weeks time. The 'agony' room is spacious, being 35 feet long, 26 feet wide most horrible-looking arrangement, in fact more uninviting than the one at Darlinghurst. The cost of the building is near (Pounds)1700.'

The building was completed in 1891 at a cost of (Pounds)1,658/10/7 and was one of 25 new government buildings erected during that year.

The courthouse was also used for civic occasions such as Governor's reception by the Berry Agricultural and Horticultural Society in 1893. The Governor, Lord Jersey was welcomed to Berry at the Courthouse before proceeding to the showground for the official 1893 Agricultural Society Show opening ceremony.

In 1894 the Courthouse Gardens were further developed with 54 trees (unspecified species) and 48 shrubs, issued by the Royal Botanical Gardens to be planted in the Berry Courthouse grounds in August 1894. Apparently the area around the Courthouse was fenced sometime after March 1896.

The Court of Petty Sessions in Berry was abolished on 30th July 1988. On The 24th September 1994 Elders Real Estate at Berry auctioned the Courthouse on behalf of the Department of Courts Administration (Justice Department). Prior to the auction the Department of Justice removed most of the internal moveable cedar fittings.

Mr Anthony A. Graham purchased the Courthouse on the 24th February 1995. Sometime between February 1995 and July 1999 some of the remaining cedar fittings were removed from the interior of the courthouse to give more access to floor space.

The Courthouse was purchased by the Shoalhaven City Council four years later on 14th July 1999. The purchase of the property by Council was strongly influenced by an extensive community consultation program and lobbying by local Berry residents. The Berry Courthouse Conservation Committee Inc was formed after the purchase of the property and currently holds a 10-year lease with Shoalhaven City Council.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - administering the justice system-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Creating and displaying Coats of Arms and official emblems and symbols-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Dispensing justice-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Designing making and using coats of arms and heraldry-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Architectural styles and periods - Victorian Academic Classical-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Berry Courthouse is historically significant as from 1891 to 1988 the courthouse was continuously used to deliver law and order in the Berry district. Established by public demand, this small rural courthouse reflects the early history and development of governance in the region and in NSW during the 19th and 20th Century. The Courthouse is also historically significant as one of the last architectural designs completed by James Barnet in his role as Colonial Architect.The courthouse was completed in 1891, under the guidance of Walter Liberty Vernon, successor to James Barnet as Supervising Government Architect. (Phoenix 2000 and HO 2005))
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The Berry Court house has a strong association with David Berry who donated the land for the purposes of construuting a much needed courthouse for the town in 1889. David Berry was the brother of Alexander Berry who took up a land grant at Berry in 1822. First Alexander and later David made outstanding contributions to commercial and civic development of the town and surrounding areas and to the development of NSW. The courthouse is also historically associated with James Barnet, Colonial Architect who designed the building and Walter Liberty Verbnon who supervised its construcution as the new Government Architect. (Phoenix 2000 and HO 2005))
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Berry courthouse is a small scale rural courthouse designed in the Classical Academic style by James Barnet. Its fine, elegant design embodies Barnet's late 19th century concepts of courthouse architecture. Much of the fabric of the Berry Courthouse building represents a style of building and some methods of construction which are no longer utilised.

The building set in its distinctive garden setting is a landmark in the township with important views to and from the site. It is constructed of rendered brick with sandstone detailing and a large Royal coat of arms in the pediment, and is composed as an imposing and austere structure. These qualities announce its function as the centre of justice in the township. (Phoenix 2000 and HO 2005)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Berry Courthouse has had an ongoing special association with the people of Berry ever since it was established at the specific request of the townspeople in 1886. The building is still held in high esteem as demonstrated in the enthusiastic response of the community in ensuring the future of the building after its decommissioning as a courthouse and subsequent sale. The Berry Courthouse has been a prominent feature of the landscape of the Berry for over a century and provides the local community with permanent link with the past and is significant to the past and present community's sense of place. This association contributes to it's local heritage significance (Phoenix 2000)
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The original Barnet building of the Berry Courthouse is a rare 19th century institutional building with most of the original 1891 building fabric intact. The original building fabric and configuration can be clearly and easily identified and the skills of designers and the tradesmen of the time are clearly evident. Much of the fabric of the Courthouse building represents a style of building and some methods of construction which are no longer utilised making the building a valuable research resource. There is also recorded evidence of the fittings of a typical country courthouse. The place has the potential to yield oral history information, archaeological and horticultural data as well as technical information. (Phoenix 2000 and HO 2005)
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
As one of the last designes completed by Barnet in his role as Colonial Architect, the Berry courthouse demonstrates the synthesis of the skills and design abilities gathered over Barnet's 28 years in that role. Its construction having been supervised by the incoming Government architect, Vernon it is also a rare example of the cross over of two very different approaches to the design of government building (Phoenix 2000)
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The Berry Courthouse is a rare example of a small scale early rural courthouse designed by Barnet. It is a fine, elegant design, embodying the complex architectural ideas and processes of one of the most talented of the early Australian architects. Barnet's courthouses were variations on a type which was responsive to colonial hierarchy of the time. Two of his courthouses, Bathurst and Goulburn, are classics of the period. Similar in plan and form both buildings have monumental entrance porticos and building features. The smaller country towns got humbler versions of the temple as courthouse as exemplified by the Berry Courthouse. . Barnet's buildings will always remain as the landmarks and focal points of most country towns in New South Wales. It embodies the late 19th century concepts of courthouse designs by the Colonial Architect's office for the creation of major institutions within their design portfolio (Phoenix 2000)
Integrity/Intactness: The Berry Courthouse is also significant because of its survival, almost completely intact, over a period of more than a century. There is also recorded evidence of the fittings of a typical country courthouse.
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.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementBerry Courthouse- A Plan for its Conservation and Management (Janine Harkness, Sept 2000) CMP conditionally endorsed by Heritage Council 28 March 2002. Mar 28 2002
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0173615 Jul 05 903766

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Illawarra Regional Heritage Study1993B-006Perumal Murphy Wu - Peter FreemanPeter Freeman No
Supplementary List to REP No 11986 (not stated)  No
Shoalhaven Heritage Study,1998 Peter Freeman Pty Ltd,  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Tourism 2007Berry Courthouse View detail
Written 1999 
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Berry Courthouse View detail
WrittenPeter Freeman Pty Ltd, ,1998Shoalhaven Heritage Study

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: Heritage Office
Database number: 5052993
File number: H04/00071


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