The Townsite of Geraldton was proclaimed in 1850 and named after Governor Fitzgerald.
It was decided shortly after Geraldton's proclamation that the town needed a seat of justice, a place in which to administer and uphold the law with in the Geraldton area.
Thus, work began on Geraldton's first courthouse in 1863 on the corner of Marine Terrace and Gregory Street. It was to be constructed of the best quality jarrah and sheoak shingles. The building was completed and ready for use 1867. The courthouse had a chequered history with many complaints made about the building. On April 26 1895, Mr Justice Stone stated that it was impossible to perform his duties in a satisfactory manner because the building was stuffy with the doors closed and strong draughts swept through the building when the doors were open. The location was also thought to be excessively noisy because of traffic noise from the street and the close proximity to the port and wharf. It was therefore decided in the late 1890s to construct a new courthouse.
The construction of the Geraldton Public Building, as it was to be known, further along Marine Terrace, was commenced in 1897 by Atkins & Law, with completion scheduled for July 1898 at an estimated cost of Â£21,000.
It was also hoped by the Premier Sir John Forrest that the construction of the palatial new Geraldton Public Building, an excellent example of late Victorian colonial architecture with its pillars and colonnades, would appease the strong secessionist movement which was calling for the north of Western Australia to secede with Geraldton to become the capital of the new State.
The building was officially opened by the Honourable E Wittenoom, Acting Premier and Minister for Mines on the 1st of October 1897.
When completed, the Geraldton Public Building became the home of Lands and Mines, Treasury, Police, Customs and Shipping and included both police and session courts.
The building served the people of Geraldton faithfully until 1988 when all of the building's occupants except for the-then Crown Law Department moved to other premises. The department then decided to assess its long term needs. A feasibility study revealed that remodelling the building provided a substantial savings benefit over the cost of constructing a new building. Thus, the Geraldton Public Building was remodelled for the singular purpose of a courthouse. The remodelling was completed in phases so that the building could still function as a courthouse.
The Geraldton courthouse was opened by the Honourable J M Berinson, QC, MLC, Attorney General, on the 15th of September 1989.
The Geraldton courthouse continues to provide the people of Geraldton quality access to justice whilst maintaining the significant historical aspect of the building.
The courthouse opens at 8.30am and closes at 4.30pm. Members of the public are welcome to come in and have a look at a piece of significant local history.
Last updated: 1-Sep-2015
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