The original courthouse was a wooden structure built in 1807 on a site not far from the present building. In front were stocks, pillory and one of the oldest institutional buildings in Newfoundland, it's cornerstone having been laid on July 26, 1830 with great ceremony and celebration. In 1850 a coat of arms was drawn and painted above the magistrate's desk by the mysterious James Clancy a highly educated gentleman who, it was rumored, had fled some "trouble" in Ireland.
In 1951, 150 years after it was built, the courthouse was declared a national historic site, one of three in the historic town of Harbour Grace.
After the original courthouse was destroyed, tenders were called, in 1830, by David Buchan, High Sheriff to start building the new courthouse. The completed structure was 63 by 33 feet. The walls are four feet thick and it has a slate roof. It also contains a jail.
The courthouse was designed by Patrick Keough. The building once housed a warden's residence which remained in use until 1963. A residence was also used as offices for the provincial court judge.
A unique and distinguishing characteristic of the courthouse is a Coat of Arms painted on one of the walls painted by an Irishman, John Chance in the late 1840's.
Court is still held there and seven people work there. About five people worked there when it was first built.
The people of the town built the court house because there was no other court house in Conception Bay, and there wasn't anyone to take of all the cases in Conception Bay.
The people of the town had to donate money to build the courthouse. They got 1 pound for every 1000 quintals of fish shipped. The courthouse, which is still in use today, has remarkable historical background that is appreciated by both the people of the town and visitors from all over the world.
© Harbour Grace Tourism