Liverpool Court House
Queens County Court House
Links and documents
1854/01/01 to 1854/12/31
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Liverpool Court House is a landmark Greek Revival temple style building, located in the centre of Liverpool, NS. The building and the lot are included in the provincial designation.
The Liverpool Court House is valued as an excellent example of Greek Revival temple-style architecture and for its continuous use as a court house since its construction in 1854.
In 1853 Chief Justice Brenton Halliburton publicly reprimanded Liverpool Township for the deplorable conditions of their ca. 1790 court house. At the time Liverpool was the seat of government for Queens County and hosted the Supreme Court and the Court of General Sessions of the Peace. In response, representatives from the County of Queens gathered early in 1854 to plan the building of a new court house. The group requested a good, plain and substantial court house. Local carpenter William C. Hammond designed by the building and it was built by LaHave native George W. Boehner. These men created one of the finest examples of Greek Revival temple-style buildings in Canada; an indication that the American Greek Revival Movement of the early nineteenth century had spread north from New England. Court house designs influenced by this movement were often called Temples of Justice, reflecting the fashionable interest in ancient Greece, the birthplace of democracy. The Liverpool Court House may be the only surviving example of the Temple of Justice ideal in the rural Maritimes. The building is wooden, however the façades have been covered with stucco and scored to resemble cut stones; a technique that is very rare in Nova Scotia.
The first court sitting in the new Liverpool Court House took place in October 1854, with Judge William F. DesBarres presiding. Judge DesBarres was the grandson of J.W.F. DesBarres, former provincial surveyor and Lieutenant Governor of Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island. Since that time the building as been in continuous use as a court house. The famed anti-confederate Joseph Howe gave a speech from the steps of the building during the 1867 election debates. In 1984 it was the location of the trial and acquittal of Jane Stafford for the killing of her husband. The case set the precedent for citing spousal abuse as a defense and was the subject of the widely read “Life With Billy” and subsequent movie.
Source: Provincial Heritage Property File no. 249
Character-defining elements of the Liverpool Court House relate to its Greek Revival style and include:
- one storey;
- twelve-over-twelve sash windows, one on front façade and three on each side;
- pilasters at all four corners;
- rear porch with dropped pediment supported by two Doric columns;
- wood construction;
- wood exterior covered in stucco scored to resemble cut stone;
- granite block footers;
- massive triglyph frieze;
- prominent pediment and prostyle front portico with four fluted Doric columns.
Province of Nova Scotia
Heritage Property Act
Provincially Registered Property
Theme - Category and Type
- Governing Canada
- Government and Institutions
- Governing Canada
- Security and Law
Function - Category and Type
- Courthouse and/or Registry Office
Architect / Designer
William G. Hammond
George W. Boehner
Location of Supporting Documentation
Provincial Heritage Property Program files, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS, B3H 3A6
Cross-Reference to Collection
Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in Queens County fonds, Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management.