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Old High Court restorations nearly complete
12 February 2016
Work is nearly complete on restorations underway in the Old High Court building, the hub of the Supreme Court’s Commercial Court hearings today.
In June 2015, the Supreme Court of Victoria received a grant from the Australian Government Department of Environment’s Protecting National Historic Sites program.
The $150,000 grant was obtained to undertake much needed maintenance works to the interior of the former High Court building, including restoration of the beautiful timber work and panelling, seating and other furniture in the three courtrooms. In addition, the Court is developing a historic interpretation program that includes a public brochure and displays that explain the building and its historic significance.
The Old High Court was included on the National Heritage List in July 2007. It was constructed between 1926 and 1928, at a time when Melbourne was the administrative capital of the Commonwealth of Australia. The architect, John Smith Murdoch, is also responsible for the design of the Old Parliament House.
The High Court of Australia remained in the building until 1980. For a period thereafter the building was occupied by the Federal Court of Australia. And following the completion of the Federal Court buildings in 1999, the Old High Court building was taken over by the Supreme Court.
The building retains much of its pre-1940s character and today operates as a busy courthouse. The Supreme Court hears mainly civil matters in the courtrooms; the Commercial Court Registry, judicial chambers and staff offices are also located on site. The original library remains intact and looks remarkably similar to when it was first completed in 1928.
Although the building receives ongoing maintenance, as a high volume courthouse it is subject to wear and tear. Receiving the grant has provided the Court with the means to ensuring the history and heritage of the building is maintained for generations to come.