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Although the Brisbane Supreme Court initially served the needs of the entire colony of Queensland, it did not occupy a purpose-built building until 1879. Until then, the Brisbane Court sat at the Old Convict Barracks in Queen Street. These barracks were in disrepair and a number of improvements, including new sets of windows, had to be constructed to allow the continued sitting of the Court. Furthermore, on Sundays, the area of the barracks used by the Court was also used as a church. Although the Court’s surroundings were not elaborate, Parliament did provide an annual grant towards the establishment of a Supreme Court Library from 1861 to 1879.
By 1870, despite minor building modifications to the convict barracks, it had become clear that a new building was required to house the Brisbane Supreme Court. A site on George Street was selected and the prominent colonial architect, Francis Drummond Greville Stanley, submitted plans for an elaborate neoclassical building which was two storeys tall. These original plans featured stone floors and other sophisticated detail. They were later modified for financial reasons and in 1875 John Petrie successfully tendered to construct the building.