Friday, January 23, 2009

Australian Estates Wool Store

Brisbane was a pretty important place in World War II. US General Douglas MacArthur, who was Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Southwest Pacific Area, was headquartered here in Brisbane at the office of the AMP Society on the corner of Queen and Edward Streets - more on that in a future post. The building reverted to AMP after the war, but when the insurance giant moved to new premises in Creek St during the 1970s, the older building was renamed MacArthur Chambers (now MacArthur Central, a new shopping mall, has been built next to it) in honour of the famous general. MacArthur wasn't the only Yank in town at the time, although being from Arkansas, MacArthur probably would have resented being called a Yankee. Ships of the US Navy were regularly here at the Teneriffe Wharves, and the Australian Estates & Mortgage Co Ltd (below) wool store building was used by US personnel. There were US Navy barracks in Dixon St and also in Sydney St, and the US Naval officers' barracks were on the corner of Ann St and Commercial Road. Apparently the tram rides between the City and New Farm were heavily favoured by Brisbane girls as an opportunity to meet US servicemen.

The wool store was situated in Macquarie St, and completed in 1926. Here is a photo of the wool store taken in 1928, showing carriers of the day (some motorised, some horse-drawn) loaded with wool outside it. There is an Australian flag flying proudly on the flagpole. Click on the photo to see a larger image.(Photo: State Library of Queensland, John Oxley Library; #167372)

And here is a picture of some US Navy subs berthed at the wharf in front of this building during the WWII - unfortunately quite low resolution, but it gives you the idea. At the top edge of this image, you can just see the Australian Estates wool store.
(Photo: Courtesy

In later years, this building became a very large retail furniture store. Then, when the gentrification of the Teneriffe precinct began, it was converted to apartments, and once again following the New York lead, they were named Saratoga Apartments. This is the way they look now.(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

I have been able to include some modern motor vehicles for comparison, but alas, no horse-drawn vehicles were available when I took this picture! I would suggest that parking in front of the building is far more problematic now than it may have been in 1928. Although the flagpole is still present, the current residents aren't flying the Southern Cross these days.

Click here for a Google Map.



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