Description of Historic Place
Carleton County Courthouse is a two storey brick and sandstone building with Romanesque elements, located on an elevated lot on Main Street in Woodstock. This historic place designation consists of the building and grounds, including a cenotaph and field gun.
Carleton County Courthouse is designated a Local Historic Place because its construction signified the end of a long feud between the "Creek Village" (present day Woodstock) and Upper Woodstock as each vied for Shire town status, for a prominent downtown office and for the landscape around the building.
The first County Courthouse was built in Upper Woodstock, the hub of the County in its early years, shortly after Carleton County formed in 1832. By the end of the century the centre of industry had shifted towards the "Creek Village," and the Courthouse was in need of major repair. Lengthy debate and heated words eventually resulted in Town Council's decision to erect a new courthouse as an addition to the Registry Office (1884) on Main Street in 1909, instead of replacing the building in Upper Woodstock. It was completed in 1910. With all major civic buildings now in the "Creek," Woodstock became the heart of the County.
The building is also valued as a prominent downtown edifice. Its size and attractive Romanesque architecture were designed to impress. Architect F. Neil Brodie planned the Courthouse as a mirror image of the Registry Office (1884), an imposing structure designed by J. G. Fletcher, and attached the sections by a plain corridor. The whole building is now referred to as Carleton County Courthouse.
The interior of the courtroom of the Carleton County Courthouse is an important part of the designation because it features all the original wooden appointments, as well as original hardware. It is the only known courthouse in Canada to have retained its grand jury box. Other offices within the building have undergone renovation but the courtroom and judges' chambers remain largely original.
The grounds are included in the designation because they are part of the overall aesthetic value of the building. The cenotaph, a statue of a WWI soldier, was constructed in the early 1920s. The base was inscribed with the names of Carleton County men who were casualties of WWI. Casualties from succeeding wars have been added on bronze plaques. The German field gun at the opposite end of the lawn was secured by Member of Parliament Thomas W. Caldwell and placed on the grounds as a memorial in 1920.
Source: Carleton County Historical Society Historic Places File #21
The character-defining elements that describe the exterior of the building include:
- 2 full stories;
- broad hipped roof;
- three hipped roof dormers;
- red brick exterior;
- brick cornice;
- pavilions at main entrances;
- decorative rusticated sandstone elements including Romanesque arches over main entrances and windows, lentils and string courses;
- decorative carved sandstone elements including Corinthian leaves and small animals.
The character-defining elements that descirbe the interior of the courtroom include:
- tall recessed round headed windows;
- Ionic cornice;
- high domed ceiling;
- wooden railings;
- original wooden furnishings including judge's bench, petit and grand jury boxes.
The character-defining elements that describe the grounds include:
- lawn leading to Main Street;
- walkways leading from Main Street sidewalk to both entrances;
- cenotaph statue at corner of Main and Maple Streets;
- WWI German field gun.