Old Heidelberg Courthouse

Architect: JB Cohen with W Mackay, 1900

East | E08

Building Description

Described by the National Trust as an “unusual example of Edwardian period architecture”, the former Heidelberg Magistrates’ Court was designed by PWD architect, J.B.Cohen, with W. Mackay, and opened in April 1900. Agitation for a new courthouse began in 1896, coinciding with calls for a direct railway connection to Heidelberg, although it was 1898 before the State Government allocated funds for the new building; originally £1,700 but later reduced to £1,200. The builders were the well-known firm of Swanson Bros. The courthouse became home to the Heidelberg Historical Society in 1979. The building is described in Historic Court Houses of Victoria (Challenger, 2001) as “an adaptation of the Italian Romanesque in red brick and stucco [which] takes its form from the unusual central courtroom which has the shape of an elongated octagon. On each side of the gabled entry porch are galleries, glazed originally in leadlight. The building retains its bracketed eaves, but has lost its cast-iron pinnacles and the slates and vents from the main roof”. Features of the main courtroom include the magnificent cedar ceiling, tiled fireplaces and an ornate plaster pediment. There is also the Clerk of Court’s Bench, the Prisoner’s Dock and the Witness Stand. Ancillary rooms include the magistrate’s retiring room (now kitchen), the prisoner’s room, barrister’s room and female witness room.

What's On

A largely self-guided tour using the detailed explanatory information provided throughout the building. View the current display, Heidelberg’s Busy Bee Signature Quilt: 1895-96, souvenirs available for purchase.


15 Jika Street, Heidelberg 3084, Heidelberg VIC

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