Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Shafston House, Kangaroo Point

Here's a building with an interesting history, and it has also been linked with some interesting people. Robert Creyke, an Anglican cleric, commenced the building originally called Ravenscott around 1851 on a riverfront property at Kangaroo Point. But before it was completed, the property was acquired by grazier Henry Russell in the following year. Russell finished the residence, renaming it Shafston, and lived in it for a time; then it was bought by Louis Hope, a grazier from Kilcoy, who apparently didn't ever live there - he rented the house to tenants. One of his tenants was Dr Henry Challinor, who was the medical officer aboard the ship Fortitude that brought Dr Lang's immigrants to Brisbane. Challinor later became a member of the Queensland Parliament.

The next owners, Charles and Mary Foster bought the property in 1883, and are reputed to have demolished the original structure and commissioned FDG Stanley to design a new house on the land. This was the basis for the Gothic structure that stands there now. Charles Foster remained at Shafston until 1896 when it once again was rented to tenants for several years. The next resident owners were Mary & James McConnel, son of David McConnel of Bulimba House where James was born. The McConnels called on RS Dods to make some further alterations to the interior of the building. The McConnels remained at Shafston until 1913 or thereabouts, and it then became a training centre for the Creche and Kindergarten Association.

After WWI, the property was acquired by the Commonwealth who renamed it Anzac House, using it as a repatriation hospital until around 1969. Here is a photograph of Shafston that was taken in 1930.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #65163)

After 1969, the property was used by the RAAF as offices and a mess, and a lot of internal restructure occurred at that time. The next photograph is from around 1979.
(National Trust of Queensland, "Historic Homes of Brisbane" by Janet Hogan; photo R Stringer)

In 1988, Brisbane entrepreneur Gary Balkin leased the property, hoping to convert it into a hospitality venue to run in conjunction with his paddle-wheelers the Kookaburra Queens. Unfortunately for him, he was unable to obtain the necessary government approvals for this venture, and the building was converted into a residence again.

Then, in 1994, the lease was transferred to another entrepreneur, Keith Lloyd. Lloyd had been variously an insurance agent, a night-club proprietor and a ship-builder before redeveloping Shafston House into a college that was mainly intended to cater for international students. Now known as Shafston International College, it is freehold property once again - here is a current photograph. The building is a landmark feature for Brisbane's ferry and CityCat passengers.

(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

Click here for a Google Map.



  1. When Charles and Mary Foster bought the property in 1883 and demolished the original structure, they probably didn't like the colour of the kitchen floor or something simple. I assume the original building was large enough, grand enough and well located enough.

    So that raises the question: when did the state government or the Brisbane Council first take on the right to protect important and historical buildings? I wonder how many 1851 buildings survive.

  2. The state government took almost another century before enacting legislation to protect heritage structures. It wasn't until the aftermath of the Bellevue Hotel and Cloudland demolitions that the then Bjelke-Petersen government was forced into action by public outrage.

    I'd hate to think of the number of superb buildings that have been smashed into pieces since the 1850s.


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