Friday, May 22, 2009

Perry House

One of Brisbane's earliest businessmen was William Perry, who, having arrived in Brisbane in June 1860, had set up a hardware store in Queen St by August of that year. He was joined in that venture by his brothers George and Frederick. The business thrived, and from those beginnings it further flourished under William's sons, Herbert and George. During the years 1911 to 1913, Herbert and George highlighted their business by building Brisbane's then tallest building, the eight storey Perry House on the corner of Elizabeth and Albert Streets in the city. The success and extent of their business at that time can be gauged by the fact that the whole eight floors of this building was used by Perry Bros. - this is the way it looked around 1924. At the top of the building is inscribed "Perry House - Estd 1860".

(Photo: State Library of Queensland & John Oxley Library; #APE-065-01-0008)

I notice that the building on the right in the photo is the "Royal Exchange Hotel", which no longer exists. An early owner of that property was another of Brisbane's prominent businessmen, one Patrick Mayne, who, from humble beginnings as a butcher, accumulated such substantial property in Brisbane that he became one of the town's wealthiest citizens. We will hear more of him in later posts here. The hotel disappeared long ago, and on that site now is a newer building that contains several floors of Borders, the book store. There is an "Exchange Hotel" elsewhere in the CBD, but that was named after the stock exchange. A "Royal Exchange Hotel", known these days as "The RE" also exists out at Toowong, and is a university student haunt of note.(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

And what of Perry House these days? In a very common story, after its years as a commercial building and having been used by the US military during WWII, it has been reinvented as accommodation. It is now the "Royal Albert", a boutique hotel, the Albert coming of course from Albert Street. It was very wise of the developers not to name it the "Prince Albert", wasn't it? ;-)

Click here for a Google Map.


Stone the crows!


  1. i think my mum used to work in that building, in the early 70s

  2. Hi - which business did she work for?

  3. i think it was called Ostas (that's how it sounded - maybe it was Aus-tass) - maybe a call answering service or something like that, i'll check with my sister, she'll remember


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