Friday, January 15, 2010

Brisbane School of Arts

Completing our trilogy of posts about the Brisbane School of Arts, we now look at where the School of Arts moved to in 1878, after leaving the property that it had sold to the Queensland National Bank. The new premises were in Ann St, in a building then known as the Brisbane Servants Home, which was built in 1866 to house and train "young women of good character to work as servants." A former patron of this home was Lady Diamantina Bowen, wife of Queensland's first Governor. The home had closed in 1870, and it was purchased by the School of Arts in 1873 for £1,000. Below is a drawing of how it looked then.
(Photo: Courtesy Brisbane City Council; BCC-B54-A582)

The School of Arts let the building until they were ready to move into it in 1878. By then, Richard Gailey had renovated the building to make it suitable for them, including the addition of some verandahs. A picture from around 1900 shows the improvements.(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #17027)

The building was later modified again to include a technical college as well as some shops to provide an income - this necessitated the removal of some of Gailey's verandahs. Here it is pictured in 1937.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #78179)

Ownership of the building passed to the Brisbane City Council in 1966, who, in 1983, commenced restoration work. In 1985, the School of Arts was reopened and is currently used by community groups. A recent photograph is shown below - see how closely it once again resembles its earlier Richard Gailey form.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

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Next: A normal school


  1. The 3 photos showed the building looking terrific and, even better, well preserved. Only the 1930s photo showed some sort of lean-to added on the side. I am glad it come off.

    I was in Brisbane over the holidays and was dismayed to see how many of your old and very beautiful buildings had been pulled down. One particular building that I could not find was a tall pub or backpacker hostel that had had wrought iron lace work around many floors (5? 6?) of balconies. I used to think it was beautiful.

  2. I can think of a few that were two or three storeys, but not much higher. Can you remember where it was Hels?

  3. I loved The People's Palace 1910-11, especially since it was build for the Salvation Army as a temperance hotel. The (now) Palace strikes me as a blissful place for studenty types.

    But I was sure there were once more buildings of this type in Brisbane, complete with their cast iron balustrades. Perhaps not right IN the central business district.

  4. The most famous of the pubs with iron balustrades was the Bellevue in George St, demolished in 1979. Watch out for a post on the Bellevue next month.

  5. The Project Architect in charge of the restoration of the building was Ronald G. Baker, Senior Architect with the Brisbane City Council. He lived & breathed this building for two years during the restoration. In 1985 Ron Baker was awarded a Citation for Meritorious Architecture from the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, was runner up in the National Lachlan Macquarie Awards and he also won the John Herbert Award.

  6. Thanks for that information Barbara!


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