Parliament House was originally designed as the Customs House in colonial Georgian architecture style by skilled colonial architect John Lee Archer in 1830. The site for the building had originally been a market but had been converted into timber yards in the 1820s. The site was reserved in 1832 for the building of a customs house due to its close location to the wharves of Sullivans Cove (the building was originally closer to the water’s edge than it is today following further reclamation).
Between 1832 and 1840 golden honey-coloured sandstone was quarried from locations in the Queens Domain and Salamanca Place (now the site of Salamanca Square), and a small railway was constructed to ferry the blocks to the construction site. Construction began on 5 January 1835 and using mostly convict labour, the basement level had been completed by March 1836. By 1838 the second story had been added and the building was ready for the staff of the Customs Department to move into on 1 September 1840.
By 1841 the building was operating as the colony’s customs house. At that time, the Legislative Council, which had been formed in 1825, were meeting in a room adjacent to the old Government House, but the location was less than adequate for such meetings. It was proposed that the meetings should be held in the spacious new ‘Long Room’ of the Customs House, and on 19 June 1841, the first Legislative Council meeting was held within the building.
Following the establishment of responsible self-government in 1856, the building was renovated in April of that year in order to make provisions for housing the new bicameral parliament. The new House of Assembly met in the Long Room, where the Legislative Council had previously met, and the Legislative Council moved into a new ornate Chamber, where they still meet today.
The Customs Department finally moved out of the building altogether in 1904, moving to a new location in Davey Street next to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, leaving the building be solely occupied by the Parliament of Tasmania. [Wikipedia]
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Parliament Buildings, Hobart
Colourised and enhanced photo depicting the Parliament House situated at the bottom of Murray Street in Hobart in the late 1860s.