Queens County Courthouse

Court Street at Church Street, Liverpool

The following is taken, with permission, from South Shore; Seasoned Timbers, Vol. 2, Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia, 1974:

This temple of justice was completed in 1854 to replace the old eighteenth century courthouse situated on the original Town Plot. It is, perhaps, the finest expression in the province of the American Greek Revival Movement, a movement which spread north, west and south from Philadelphia, New York and Boston from the 1820's to roughly 1860.

The plans for the building were drawn by a local carpenter, William G. Hammond and were executed by George W, Boehner, a Lunenburg youth who had apprenticed in Liverpool under the carpenter Edward Van Horn. At twenty-six Boehner was just beginning his vigorous entrepreneurial career which was to bring him a reputation for ingenuity, prudence and enterprise.

Behind the fluted Doric wooden columns is the main entrance to the building. Here the wooden walls have been scored to resemble blocks of stone. The pretense of stone ends with the wide anta-like cornerboards, though the decorated frieze continues along the sides of the building. The side walls which are shingled are each pierced with three suitably monumental windows.

The interior contains one large courtroom with three smaller chambers behind. The eastern one is for lawyers, the western for the jury and the central one for the presiding judge. The judge's bench stands under a well formed arch. The doors for the jurymen and lawyers are placed symmetrically on either side of the arch. In 1969 the courtroom's high ceiling was lowered somewhat in a renovation that caused the exterior of the Courthouse to be painted a gleaming, marble-like white.

George Boehner had made a gift of some of his own land for a building site, an offer the Grand Jury was quick to accept. This legislative body then voted 400 for a "plain, good and substantial courthouse". In May, 1854, William Hammond was paid 1/10/0 for his plan and specifications for the Courthouse. But George Boehner was not so fortunate. The Queens County magistrates refused to pay his bill for 400, because they didn't approve of its site. A fine row followed, with the Grand Jury supporting Mr. Boehner against the magistrates, led by Mr. Philip Carten. Both parties dug in their heels until Mr. Justice Halliburton settled the matter in favour of Mr. Boehner at a sitting of the Supreme Court in the new "comfortable and commodious" Courthouse in 1855.

Read about the 1999 Courthouse renovations

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