Courthouse in Kingston Ontario
Watercolour of the Courthouse in Kingston Ontario
Measures framed: 20" x 19"
The Frontenac County Courthouse is representative of the development of judicial administration in 19th century Ontario and with the growth of Kingston. In 1840, Upper and Lower Canada were combined to create The United Province of Canada. Kingston became the first capital of the new province in 1841 and was incorporated as a city in 1846. The original 1796 courthouse and jail became too small to meet the demands of the growing population and were sold. Contracts were let for a new courthouse to be built on land obtained from the Province in 1855. Limestone for the structure was quarried on the site. The new building, designed by Edward Horsey, served the United Counties of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (Kingston is now located within Frontenac County), and the first court session was held in 1858. Construction then began on a new jail and jailer's house located directly behind the courthouse.
After a major fire damaged the courthouse in 1874, architect John Power oversaw its reconstruction and designed a new registry office. It was built immediately to the east of the larger courthouse building to alleviate crowding within the courthouse. Although the building suffered another fire in 1931 and extensive interior renovations in 1965, the original exterior remains intact.
The Classical Revival courthouse was modelled in some measure on George Brown's Neoclassical Kingston City Hall of 1842-44. The courthouse consists of a three-storey block flanked symmetrically by two-storey wings which end in pedimented pavilions. The principal entrance is sheltered by a double-storey Ionic portico, complete with frieze, cornice, coffered ceiling and a tympanum that displays the Royal Coat of Arms. Diminished and responsive pediments crown the end pavilions on their three sides as well as the central bay on the rear of the building. A central ribbed dome, redesigned after the 1874 fire, sits on a drum lit by 16 arched windows framed by pilasters and crowned with moulded arches and keystones. The lantern above has six semi-circular arches and attached columns repeating the dome details below and is surmounted by a flagpole. Cupolas with octagonal drums and ribbed domes were also added to the end pavilions at this time. The ashlar surface of the front facade contrasts with the hammer-dressed stone on the rear. The second-storey windows are taller than those of the ground floor, offering greater light to the large courtroom spaces of the original second floor plan.
The Registry Office building has hammer-dressed limestone ashlar walls and classical details and was built to provincial design and specifications in 1874. An addition was added to its west elevation facing the courthouse in 1964-66.
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Part Number: 2019hs36
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