Limbo is a word that intrigues. Not the dance, but the condition - as in "a state of limbo". It has religious significance, especially for Catholics, but other more modern meanings are "an intermediate or transitional state". Today's property fits into that definition.
The large property (just over 3300 sq m or 130 perches in the old money) in New Farm was sold in late 2009 for a reported $6.2 million. At that time it was listed on the Brisbane City Council's heritage list, but not on that of the state government. If you look it up now, the BCC web pages say "currently under review" - in other words, in a state of limbo.
On the land sits a former residence known as Inglenook that dates from 1888. A portion of land from the Kinellan estate of Sir Robert McKenzie (across the road from Merthyr House owned by Sir Samuel Griffiths) was purchased by successful businessman Leopold Benjamin and architect JJ Cohen designed the house Inglenook for him. Here is a photograph showing the large portion of land and the house. The Spanish Mission-style house directly across the street is Santa Barbara.
Unfortunately the boom of the 1880s turned into the bust of the 1890s and Benjamin was forced to sell his home. In 1919 it was bought by Henry Byram and it was renamed Allawah. A later inhabitant was Leslie Wilson who bought the property in 1925 and he called it Risdon. He was the owner until 1942 when it was bought by the Girls Friendly Society, a part of the Church of England, who used it as a home for single service-women who came to Brisbane during the war. After the war ended, it became a home for single working women and then a hostel.
I have only read news reports about the intentions of current owner, a Brisbane barrister, with respect to the property. There has been talk of demolishing a couple of outbuildings and renovating the interior of the main house. A recent report stated that the Council has approved a development application for the property, a probable reason for the heritage listing to be under review. Some heritage commentators have fears for the interior of the house if a refurb goes ahead.
This New Farm house is an an area of rich historical significance in Brisbane. Let's hope the new owners maintain its integrity.
Click here for a Google Map.