141 McDowall Street
Roma QLD 4455
Constructed in 1901, the Roma courthouse reflected the town's optimism for the future. As Australia entered its first century of Federation and Roma’s importance increased, the courthouse provided a focus not only for law and justice but for town balls and other community events.
The stone building was influenced by federation free style and replaced the original timber courthouse, destroyed by fire in the late 1800s. The dominant H-shaped McDowall street façade is a central curved vestibule with four approach steps, four columns, two pilasters and entablature of the Ionic order.
Designed by architect John Smith Murdoch, it is one of only ten surviving masonry courthouses built in the 19th century and the last built of that series.
The courthouse’s location on the hill west of the town centre influenced Roma’s development, resulting in reference to the area as the West End.
Historically, the building has been associated with the famous Australian trial in 1872 of Harry Redford (otherwise know as Captain Starlight). Redford was accused of stealing 1,000 head of cattle in north-west Queensland and driving them to South Australia (nine years after explorers Burke and Wills had died attempting to cross the same terrain). He was tried and famously acquitted in 1873.
The courthouse is heritage-listed and remains in use today.
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