Monday, August 31, 2009

Government House (Fernberg)

Queensland's current Governor is Ms Penelope Wensley AO, and I haven't met her yet! Actually, I didn't meet any of the previous Governors either, even though I attended a garden party at Government House in 1966 as a representative of my school. I believe the Governor then was Sir Alan Mansfield, but I didn't get to meet him on the day - it was a large gathering. Government House is situated at Paddington, and is one of Brisbane's oldest and finest residences. It was built around 1864 by the wine merchant Johann Huessler, who called it Fernberg. He later became a member of Queensland's Upper House and was a founding member of the Queensland Club. He was also the German Consul and was instrumental in assisting many Germans to emigrate to Queensland. Eventually, a reversal in his business fortunes resulted in his being unable to keep the residence, and he left it in 1872. In 1882, the house was acquired by another politician, John Stevenson, who then hired architect Richard Gailey to design some improvements and extensions to the property in 1888. The Government House web pages describe the result as follows: "Under Gailey's supervision, the house more than doubled in size and changed from an 1860s villa to an Italianate mansion." The following photographs of Fernberg are from around 1890 and 1897 respectively.

(Photos: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #3771 and #33645)

When Queensland became a State in 1859, the first Governor, George Bowen, lived at Adelaide House - now The Deanery at St John's Anglican Cathedral. He moved into the first official Government House after it was built in 1862, but that property was eventually given to the University of Queensland when it was inaugurated in George St in 1909. As a temporary measure until the completion of a new Government House that was to be constructed at Victoria Park, Fernberg was leased by the State for the then Governor, Sir William MacGregor. The Victoria Park construction never eventuated, and Fernberg remains as Government House, after being purchased by the State government in 1911 for the vice-regal sum of £10,000. Improvements were required at that time, and further renovation, restoration and improvements have been undertaken at various times since then; with the most recent modernising of the residence occurring in 1987, and then the building of a pavilion near the tennis courts and pool in 2001. This is the way Fernberg looks today - a pristine white building in a tropical green setting, under a blue Queensland sky. Wonderful. Click any photo to see a larger image.
(Photos: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

My special thanks are given to Michelle Jackwitz at Government House for her assistance in gathering information for this blog post.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Spanish garden

1 comment:

  1. I just noticed the house was extended. I kind of like the look of it pre expansion. Now it just looks too boxy.


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