Prominently located in High Street, near the Belmore Bridge, Maitland Court House was designed by government architect Walter Liberty Vernon and constructed in 1895.
On 1 August 1890 Vernon had been as appointed government architect in the new branch of the Department of Public Works which had been created to allow private architects to compete for the design of all public buildings estimated to cost over £5000.
The Maitland Court House was designed during the transition of Victorian and Federation periods and is classified as Federation Free Classical.
Its physical aspects include an exterior in red face brick with Ravensfield sandstone decorative details. The roof is hipped and gabled and clad in slate tiling. The clock tower which is mounted on the roof above the court room is a renowned landmark in the district. The original plans for the court house included the clock, but although the clock tower was in place, the clock was not installed for another 70 years.
Until 1986 the building was used as a combined court house and police station. Since then it has continued to function as a court house with court sittings held regularly.The building consists of many rooms including a general office, waiting room, prisoner access area to the court room, Community Legal Centre office and police area. Repairs to the Court House have been made over the years, with the supply of Ravensfield stone being an important resource for such repairs. A stockpile of Ravensfield stone was created after demolition of the old kitchens at Maitland Gaol. The clock tower was repaired in 1991 and in 1999, and graffiti carved into the sandstone was repaired.
An heritage architect from the New South Wales Department of Public Works and Services predicted that future repairs were likely to include a mix of replacing stone as well as mortar in open joints and fitting additional lead weathering to prevent the chain of deterioration caused mainly by water. In August 2013, it was announced that $1.1 million was allocated for upgrades to the court house site, including a roof replacement, air conditioning upgrade, disability access and fire safety improvements as well as repainting, carpeting, landscaping and replacement of underground pipes. The work was completed in February 2014.
The Court House was listed on the Register of the National Estate in 1978, included in the Maitland LEP in 1993 and the State Heritage Register in 1999.