Old St. Andrews

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Court House

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In the third decaded of the nineteenth century, the old Court House at Market Square was falling into decay. At a session of the Supreme Court, the presiding Judge complained: "We have witnessed, with pain the inconvenience and suffering which the venerable judges who have visited us for some years past have endured; on many occasions sitting from morning till midnight, oppressed with heat, exhalations, and sudden draughts of air in summer; and either shivering with cold in winter, or flushed with an occasional glow from the stoves, attended with smoke and the call for open doors, producing the miserable alternative of another period of freezing. The room in which the courts are held is too low; badly arranged and quite insufficient for the requirements of the County. The magisterial bench suffer equally at the Sessions; and the Barristers as well as their clients, must have often experienced the difficulty of communication when the lapse of a few minutes might materially affect the causes before the Court. At the late election, the Sheriff wisely abandoned the Court House and occupied the elevated portico which is ascended by flights of crazy steps almost as moveable as the willow 'whose silver lining to the breeze upturns.'"

It was decided to build a new Court House near the Jail on Frederick Street. This time the mistake made with the Jail, of not closely overseeing construction, and which resulted in a sub-standard product, was not repeated. The architect was Thomas Berry, and the building, when finished, seemed to please everyone. A Committee reporting on the finished structure concluded: "We have closely examined the first named building, the Court House, both inside and out, and after a thorough examination, we have great pleasure in saying that we are all very highly pleased with it, and that while it unquestionably is a great ornament to the town, it is also decidedly creditable both to workmanship and design to the skilfull architect who built it. We have been extremely sorry, however, to learn, that Mr. Berry will lose seriously by his contract, but we have no doubt that a proper application to the Legislature on his part will result in not only making hm whole but rewarding him, in some slight degree at all events, for the great extra expense, it appears that he has incurred in his desire to give general satisfation."

In 1858 Charles Kennedy added the carved Royal Coat of Arms over the main door.

The Courthouse, which is still used today, is considered one of the most significant neo-classical buildings in Canada. The courtroom retains many of its original fittings, including massive 12 over 12 windows with original shutters. It is both a Provincial and National Historic Site.

Many stirring events have taken place at the Court House - notable trials, Sir John A. MacDonald spoke there in 1887, two executions were decided there, one in 1879 and the last in 1942.