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The new court house was designed by noted architect J.J. Clark, who was at the time Colonial Architect. John James Clark was born and trained in Liverpool, England. He arrived in Melbourne in 1853 and won a number of architectural competitions, his success in such competitions being a feature of his career. He designed some major public buildings in Melbourne, including the Treasury. He moved to Sydney in 1881 and in 1883 had become Queensland Colonial Architect. Although he left the position in 1885, he was responsible for some important public buildings including courthouses at Charters Towers, Rockhampton and Warwick. They and the Mackay court house were designed in the classical revival style thought appropriate for public buildings intended to convey a sense of stability and dignity, particularly a court house which represented the power of the law. The contractor for the work was Denis Kelleher and the cost on completion, including a strong room and furniture, was £4499/8/7. The court house was a single storey building with rooms extended to each side of the front entrance containing barristers and witnesses' rooms and which were later extended by one room on each side. Behind the bench were rooms for the judge, police magistrates, Clerk of Petty Sessions and Jury. It was opened on 27 May 1886 and the first local sitting of the Supreme Court was held on 15 June 1886.
Courtesy of the Queensland Heritage Register