Australian Heritage Specialists has been commissioned by Cairns Regional Council (CRC) to help bring the historic former Cairns Court House building back to life and ensure it will continue to serve an important role in the community for generations to come.
The landmark building in Abbott Street is one of three state heritage-listed buildings which are set to be transformed into the new Cairns Gallery Precinct.
AHS has been commissioned to prepare a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for the former Court House and its surrounding gardens to ensure the heritage values are maintained while expanding the potential of the building as both an entertainment space and cultural arts centre.
AHS Principal Consultant Benjamin Gall said the CMP will guide the restoration and adaptive re-use of the building and its ongoing conservation to ensure all future decisions are made while taking into account the building’s cultural heritage significance.
“We have assembled a team of top professionals with many decades of experience in adaptive re-use of heritage buildings in Queensland who have the capability and expertise to carry out a complex project of this nature,” Mr Gall said.
“Our aim is to ensure the old court house building will be restored to its former glory and find an important new use within the community that will ensure its relevance to the Cairns region for decades to come.
“It’s exciting to be a part of this visionary project which will eventually see three of Cairns’ most significant heritage public buildings given a new life as a cultural hub for residents and visitors.”
The former Cairns Court House was constructed between 1919-1921 and was the third court house to be built in the city. It has since been replaced by a new courthouse and police station complex in Sheridan Street, which opened in 1992.
The former Court House was renovated in 1998 and became the Cairns Courthouse Hotel, before being acquired by the CRC in 2016 with the intention to restore the building to its original condition and re-open the spaces for council and community use.
The council has since commissioned a preliminary concept design for the broader Cairns Gallery Precinct, undertaken by TPG Architects, which includes the adaptive reuse of two adjacent buildings – the former Public Curator’s Office building (now the Cairns Art Gallery) which was completed in 1936, and the former Mulgrave Shire Council Chambers constructed in 1912.
“The restoration and adaptive re-use of the former Court House building will spearhead the creation of the new Cairns Gallery Precinct, which will link the city centre to the Esplanade parklands and waterfront,” Mr Gall said.
“This project is an important part of Cairns’ evolution into the cultural capital of North Queensland, with the vision for the precinct including international touring exhibitions and contemporary Indigenous art.”
For more information on the project, visit the CRC website at www.cairns.qld.gov.au
Australian Heritage Specialists deliver a range of heritage services including heritage advice and assessments, heritage architecture, archaeology and Aboriginal heritage.