Supreme Court Building

Location: Elizabeth Street, Sydney
On 20th March, 1820, Macquarie laid a foundation stone for a building to be called the Georgian Public School, an institution to care for neglected children. However, Bigge again intervened, insisting it must become a court house. Greenway protested "so far as he could with delicacy", but to no avail. Work proceeded on the site adjacent to the western end of St James' Church. However the building was still incomplete when Macquarie left the colony in December, 1821.

Acting Colonial Engineer, Major Druitt, over-anxious to please with the rate of progress on the court house, directed the roof to be constructed before all the necessary supporting pillars and braces were in place. Greenway protested to Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane, Macquarie's successor, but in vain. Thereafter Greenway's relations with officialdom continued to deteriorate until his dismissal from the Government service in November, 1822.

After his dismissal, Greenway made strong criticism of the manner in which work on the court house continued under the direction of the builder, Mr Gough. In particular, he criticised the deletion of a facade of Doric columns, arrangements for supporting the hastily constructed roof and the subdivision into two courtrooms of the large courtroom on the ground floor. Apart from the circular staircase, the Doric portico at the western end of the building (later demolished) window treatment and certain recessed wall panels, little survived of Greenway's original design.

Progress on the building was slow. It was not until August, 1827, that Governor Darling, Brisbane's successor, issued a proclamation ordering that the west wing of the building be handed over to the judges of the Supreme Court. Finally, in September, 1827, Chief Justice Forbes and Mr Justice John Stephen moved in and began furnishing the west wing while the builders continued work on the east.

At the end of August, 1828, the entire building was handed over to the court so that the judges could dictate details of the internal arrangements. Greenway's Doric colonnade, planned to run between the two wings, was never built leaving the circular staircase isolated in an open courtyard and exposed to the weather. For the next few years alarmed was expressed at the condition of building: it became necessary to brace the roof with additional poles and columns. Serious cracks in the dividing walls led to fears they would collapse. Lack of adequate ventilation, heating and cooling, and the intrusion of noise also were the causes of serious and prolonged complaints from all users of the building. The fireplaces in the courtroom smoked so badly it could not be used when the wind blew from certain quarters.

The old Banco Court was created in the 1840s which resulted in the removal of the western portico and the creation of a new entry from King Street which became the main entrance, previously intended to be on the Hyde Park side. In 1864, a request to the Government for a new courthouse was refused, so the Government embarked on patchwork additions to the old building as its solution to the overcrowding problem. By 1868, the King Street arcade had been added, the footpath flagged, major repairs to??g the roof carried out and a parapet built at the roof line. In December 1895, the foundations were laid for a new Banco Court on the St James Road frontage and the building was ready for occupation in February the following year. The building was of two stories, the courtroom, chambers and consulting rooms on the lower floor and more chambers on the upper.







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