Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Milton House, Milton

As you leave Brisbane's CBD travelling outbound on busy Coronation Drive, a quick glance to the right just before you reach the Park Rd intersection will reveal a glimpse of this old building, Milton House, sandwiched between the new high-rise office towers and apartment buildings.

(Photos: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

In 1851, Brisbane chemist Mr Ambrose Eldridge bought 30 acres of riverfront land just beyond the northern boundary of Brisbane. He called it Milton Farm, naming it after Greater Milton, near Oxford in England, where he was born. Although he had never been a farmer, Eldridge's ambition was to grow cotton on the property and export it to England where he was sure it would fetch good prices. By 1853, his ambition had been realised, at least in part. Five acres of his ground had produced 20 bales of cotton that he did indeed sell in England for a handsome profit over production costs. It is also recorded that he won a £30 first prize from the NSW government in a competition, as well as receiving meritorious mention at the 1855 Paris Exhibition. Eldridge retired from his chemist shop and expanded his farming interests with some land leased at Eagle Farm. He sold Milton House, the homestead on the farm, to pastoralist and parliamentarian John McDougall in 1856. Unfortunately, Eldridge's early successes were not replicated in his later endeavors, and he was forced to return to being a chemist in Ipswich prior to his death in 1860, reportedly leaving his family penniless.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #63477)

These photos, taken in 1868 (above) and 1863 (below), show Milton House when it was being leased from the McDougalls by Arthur Manning, the Colonial Under-Secretary, and his family.(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #17392)

Milton House and Milton Farm provided the name for the present day suburb of Milton, and Milton Farm was sub-divided into housing allotments. Milton House was purchased in 1904 by grain merchant William Siemon, a prominent River Drive (now Coronation Drive) inhabitant. The house was donated by the Siemon family to the Methodist Church in 1955. During the 1990s, the property was incorporated into the development of King's Row, a large office block, and at that time the exterior was refurbished to represent its appearance from the 1860s.

Click here for a Google Map.



  1. When I saw the first 2011 photo, I thought it was a Victorian home that had been recently renovated and greatly modernised. But the two photos from the 1860s show that it was indeed a very special piece of architecture, from the beginning! The roof is unusual, the verandas are very wide, the timber balustrade looks Edwardian and not Victorian etc. What a delight!

  2. Hels - the following info appears on the heritage page of the Queensland government:

    The hip-roofed house is Colonial Georgian in style and plan, having a typical front doorway with segmented sidelights and an arched fanlight, and a symmetrical arrangement of rooms about a central hallway on each floor. The ground floor has wide, open verandahs on three sides. Two service rooms run across the rear of the core, incorporating pavilion wings of the side verandahs. The walls are of brick, which is lime rendered and jointed to give the impression of stone. A three-roomed cellar is constructed of rough rubble walling, and entered by steps on the south side of the verandah. The roof shingles have been replaced with corrugated iron.

  3. Colonial Georgian... why not :)

  4. I lived at Milton House in 1985 when it was being utilised as a Uniting Church hostel.


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