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James MacNamara

Joseph Beattie (husband of Mary MacNamara)
The First Government Building of Stone In Oamaru

In May 1862, in response to Oamaru's crime rate being much higher than the national average the contract to build a court-house was let to George Gammell and Joseph Beattie for the sum of 899 10s. The construction was far from straight forward with the contractors disagreeing and getting into numerous difficulties. The building was finally completed in the beginning of 1863.

It was the first public building to be built of Oamaru stone however due to the continuing high crime rate a Supreme Court was established in Oamaru. This required the erection of a second courthouse which was built further north along Thames Street in 1882-1883. The first courthouse and its land were vested in the Oamaru Mechanics' Mechanics Institute in 1882 for use as a museum but from 1895 it was leased, with the authority of the museum committee, to a variety of tenants. From 1895 until 1911 it was used by the Church of Christ as the Oamaru City Temple. The photograph, courtesy of the North Otago Museum, is of the building as used by the Church of Christ circa 1902.

From 1953 until 1973 its use reverted to that of a museum. The North Otago Pioneer Gallery opened on 11 September 1953 in the old courthouse. The building was then demolished in 1974 to make way for the Oamaru Public Library which stands on the site today [2008] @ 62 Thames Street.

The building as used by the Church of Christ circa 1902

Thanks to the North Otago Museum 
Private Bag 50058 
60 Thames Street 
Photo reproduced with permission.

For further information see;

Historic Places Trust - Register of Historic Places

North Otago Museum

National Library Papers Past Database

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