Friday, September 16, 2011

The Manor Apartments, Queen St

Many of the grand old buildings that remain in Brisbane's CBD were built by banks or insurance companies. The one we see today was built in 1930-1 by Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society, more commonly referred to as CML. Although CML no longer exists, having been gobbled up in industry rationalisation, the building still stands in Queen St. Here it is, photographed during its construction.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #406756)

The next image shows how successfully the architects, Hennessy and Hennessy, incorporated the style of the building to the existing streetscape. The GPO is on the right of the CML, and on the left is the former National Mutual Life Association (see what I mean?) building, now a Suncorp office.(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #204345)

Almost the whole of this side of Queen St between Edward and Creek Sts was redeveloped between the wars, with AMP and Commonwealth Bank also erecting offices there during this time.

An interesting aspect of the CML Building was the use of Benedict Stone for the building's exterior. Benedict Stone was made in Brisbane by licence from the parent company in the USA that had invented the product. The licence was held by Brisbane's Catholic Archbishop Duhig who at that time was planning to build a new cathedral in Brisbane. That project was later scrapped because funds were scarce.

(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

The stone was made from cement and crushed Brisbane tuff quarried at Albion and mixed at the Benedict Stone Works at Newstead, also owned by Duhig. The resultant stone varied in colour from green to pink tones, as can be seen in the photograph above.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #103758)

Above is a photograph of the Benedict Stone building at Light St, Newstead from 1934. CML went on to use this stone in other offices around Australia. (Photo:

One of the features of the Brisbane building is the large number of gargoyles present around the top of the building and also on the facade (see photo above). In 1983, the building was purchased by Queensland Newspapers. They did some restoration work and called it Newspaper House, but more recently the building has emerged as The Manor Apartments, a serviced accommodation facility.

Click here for a Google Map.



  1. I have never heard of Benedict stone before, but how clever to make stone from cement and crushed igneous, crystalline rock. It had the old beauty of rock and the modern advantages of cement. If my eyes could get past the gargoyles, I would love the gentle pink colour of the stone.

  2. It's certainly very attractive. I wonder why we don't see it (or something similar) used these days?

    Perhaps it's more expensive than glass and steel. :-)

  3. It's the most beautiful building in our city. It's history more interesting than expected, especially Duhig, etc.

  4. When Colonial Mutual moved across the road in 1984, it marked the closing of the last manually operated switch board in Brisbane.


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