The first courthouse in Georgetown, designed by Isaac Smith in 1831, was of wooden construction and built circa. 1835. It was located in Kent Square, behind where the present senior citizen complexes stand. It, too, fell victim to fire – and many valuable papers and documents were lost with it, prompting the residents of the Town to then request the government to build a new courthouse, using stone or brick.
“It is to be constructed of Wallace stone and domestic stone, with Wallace stone trimmings throughout… the whole building is to covered with slate roof and will be neatly furnished inside. The contrast between the Wallace and domestic stone gives the building a very handsome appearance. There will be heavy arched doors and windows, cost about $9,000. Mr. C. Harris of Charlottetown is the architect.” (Quoted from Montague Pioneer)
The cornerstone of the new courthouse was laid on June 21, 1886, in commemoration of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.
In 1915, a jail facility was added to the structure, replacing the one on George Street which was located at the Three Rivers Sportsplex site. The jail section was in use until 1993, when all inmates were then moved to the Provincial Correctional Facility at Sleepy Hollow.
In 1995, extensive renovation of the building made it more suitable for both provincial and supreme court proceedings to take place. Also, the Deputy Prothonotary and the Sheriff for Kings County have their offices there.
The building is one of the Island’s finest examples of masonry workmanship. The following information is taken from The Canadian Inventory of Historic Building: Georgetown Court House; C.J. Taylor (1977):
“Architecturally, the Georgetown Court House is one of the finest in the province. The present building replaced an original wood frame court house designed by Isaac Smith in 1831. Although small for a building of this type, it is an imposing edifice, designed in 1886, by William Critchlow Harris.
“The Romanesque style of the building does not seem to follow any preconceived notion of what a court house should look like. The court room is located on the ground floor and extends through the upper story to a ceiling. The ground floor also contains rooms for the judge and barristers, and an office for the prothonotary. The jury rooms are on the second floor, with the caretaker’s rooms above.
“The building was constructed by Lemuel A. Wilmot for $8,000.00. Its cornerstone was laid with great ceremony, for the occasion coincided with the Town’s celebration of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.
“In 1915, the old jail was replaced by a new one of concrete and stone, constructed attached to the court house at the rear.