Friday, March 29, 2013

Coorparoo Uniting Church

The first church to be built in the Coorparoo shire was the Methodist Church constructed in 1886. Here is a photograph of that building from around 1895.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #172462)

That church was demolished in the early 1950s to enable a new church to be erected in its place. The new building was designed by Alex Trewern and completed in 1952. The second building is still standing, now called the Coorparoo Uniting Church. Here is a current photograph. I like how Trewern retained a link to the looks of the original church.
(Photo: © 2012 the foto fanatic)

A hall was constructed next to the original church building in 1914 - it was extended in 1919 and remains to this day. A current photograph of the hall follows - you can also see here similar styling to the original church building.
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(Photo: © 2012 the foto fanatic)

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fell's Cottage, Spring Hill

(Photo: Courier Mail)


I was all set to prepare a post on this property but the good folk at the Courier Mail have done it for me!

Click here to read about this 1878 worker's cottage.

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Friday, March 22, 2013

Eton House (Hellesvere), Upper Roma St

Like our last post, this is also a historical venue that is now a commercial premises. Although it is very close to the CBD, most people would be unaware of its existence, let alone its history.

Francis Curnow arrived in Brisbane in March 1860 at the age of twenty and went to work as a clerk at Cribb and Foote in Ipswich, before becoming a pay clerk for the Roads Department. From there he moved to the Railway Department, eventually becoming chief clerk of the railways. This job brought him to Brisbane in 1877 and he purchased from James Gibbon an allotment near the site of Roma St railway station on which to build a house. This is the house, known then as Hellesvere. 
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(Photo: © 1982 National Trust of Queensland; F Bolt) 

Francis Curnow went on to become Queensland's third commissioner for railways, retiring in 1889. Tragically he lost a twenty year-old son who drowned in a "swimming baths" in 1900, and Francis himself died in 1901. The house remained in the Curnow family until 1909.

In the 1930s Hellesvere was purchased by a Mrs Curtis who renamed the residence Eton and operated it as a boarding house.
(Photo: chiangdow.com)

The building is still called Eton, and operates now as a bed and breakfast venue in the heart of Brisbane's backpackers accommodation quarter.
(Photo: google.com)

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Lucerne, Paddington

This week we are looking at a couple of inner-city places that have stood the test of time and have not only survived but thrived. Both now have a commercial orientation, but I'll bet that most of you don't know of them.

The first is this little gem from the 1860s, Lucerne, at Paddington. Erected on what was then over six acres of land in the vicinity of Old Bishopsbourne, the house was one of three increasingly large houses built by bricklayer James Young to accommodate his ever-growing family that finally amounted to 16 children.

Young and his family moved from this residence to one of the other larger houses in the early 1870s and let this one to solicitor John Guthrie, and it was he who named the house Lucerne. After Guthrie left the house, James Young let it to a Miss Davis who ran a girls' school there. Young subsequently sold the house to a Mr Campbell who on-sold to John Scott MLA in 1883. The earliest photograph of the residence that I could find is this one from around 1932.(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #176795)

And here it is a little later, after the verandah panels were removed.
(Photo: © 1979 National Trust of Queensland; R Stringer)

Today the house is run as bed and breakfast accommodation for guests and is known as Lucerne on Fernberg. This photograph from 1996 shows the front entrance to the house and part of the attractive garden.
(Photo: © DSEWPaC rt50896; J Houldsworth)

Click here for a Google Map.

tff



Friday, March 15, 2013

Watson Bros Building, Margaret St

If I had to have a city office, I'd want one that looked like this. Designed by the famous architect Richard Gailey, the Watson Bros building in Margaret St is a 19th century marvel. Gailey was certainly prolific, but there is no doubt that he was also very talented. He designed fabulous houses, spectacular hotels and brilliant warehouses in Brisbane, and we are fortunate that some such as the Watson Bros building are still standing.

George Watson Senior arrived in Brisbane in 1862 aboard the ship Ocean Chief. He established a plumbing business in Albert St which thrived in growing Brisbane. Sons George Junior, Thomas, James and John joined their father in the plumbing business and when George Senior retired in 1880 they took over the business and expanded it. That expansion called for new premises which they had constructed in the area known as Frog's Hollow (see previous post), gradually being cleaned of its squalid buildings and unsavoury reputation. Here is a drawing of their 1887 building that appeared in The Queensland Figaro in both January and February 1888. The sign above the top floor of the building says "Watson Brothers Late George Watson".
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(Photo: trove.com.au)

I'm not sure when the "late" George Watson died. According to Queensland Figaro, he attended the "house-warming" for the new building on Tuesday 8 November 1887, so he must have passed away between that date and January 1888. I have never been involved in the construction industry, but from what I read in today's press the relationship between the executives and the workers is a far cry from how they appeared in those days. Have a read of the report on this house-warming party and see what you think.

Present at that function was John Balls, whose firm Smith and Balls were the contractors who completed the project. John Balls was the husband of Mrs Sarah Balls who continued the running of their businesses (they were also hoteliers) after John's death. She was to be involved in the construction of the next-door building some years later.

Below is a photograph of the building from around the year 1900, and some alterations are evident. An awning over the footpath has been added, and the signage is different (assuming the sign in the drawing above was accurate and not the artist's representation). 
State Library of Queensland; Image No 89333
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #89333)

When the building opened there were some tenants, but gradually the Watson Bros business expanded to inhabit all three levels. Brothers Thomas, James and John left the business in 1902, leaving George Junior to run it. He, in turn, brought his sons George III and Norman Mayor aboard, together with his four daughters and his foreman prior to the formation of a limited company.

George Watson Jr was a respected businessman in the mould of his equally admired father. He became a council alderman in 1891 and mayor in 1892, and remained on the council until 1896. Son Norman Mayor (click here to read about him) was killed in WWI and George Junior died on 21 June 1923. The business of Watson Bros was heavily involved in WWI, having fitted out plumbing alterations to 90% of all vessels that were converted to troopships.

Watson Bros continued as a viable business until 1961 when it was forced into liquidation. Since that time ownership of the building has changed a few times and tenants have included Queensland Ballet Company, a car park operator and an artists' co-operative. Here is a recent photograph of the building and below that a close-up of the central pediment.
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(Photos: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Finally, an advertisement from 1955, proudly articulating the company's 100 year history in Brisbane.
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(Photo: the kingsman magazine)

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

HB Sales Building, Margaret St

References to early Brisbane often mention a place called Frog's Hollow. It was a low-lying area that stretched from Elizabeth St down to the river at the Botanical Gardens and bounded on the other two sides by George St and Edward St. Back in the days when farming took place in the area that is now the Gardens, Frog's Hollow was a wet and swampy area that the convict farmers had to traverse to get to their workplace.  Frog's Hollow was low in other ways too. The wet and unsanitary conditions meant that anything built here was cheap and unkempt - it became Brisbane's red light district, where prostitution, sly grog and even opium dens could be found.

Over time the low-lying ground was back-filled and light industry started to spring up. But it was still susceptible to flooding in heavy rain. Below is a photograph taken during the 1864 flood, looking from George St down Charlotte St, where the "hollow" can readily be seen.
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(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #22130)

Today's building is situated on Margaret St in the old Frog's Hollow district. It is the HB Sales Building, and next door is the Watson Bros building that we will see next. The HB Sales building was designed by Frank Longland and it was built in 1912 on land owned by the publican Mrs Sarah Balls who, at the time was the licensee of the Stock Exchange Hotel on Edward St. The building was to become the workshop of Acme Engineering Works, previously of Charlotte St.  The Watson Bros building next door had been built in 1887 by Mrs Balls' husband John and his partner Henry Smith. John Balls died in 1895.

Here are some photographs of the HB Sales building.
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(Photo: nathandavid88 via skyscrapercity.com)


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(Photo: google.com)

 Acme Engineering Works remained in the premises until 1928, after which it was owned by Charles Jeays who operated in plumbers' supplies. After WWII the building was occupied by Gardiner Batteries and then HB Sales from 1958. The last couple of inhabitants appear to be vendors of bicycles and accessories.

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Friday, March 8, 2013

Bee Gees Way, Redcliffe

I was a pimply teenager when the Bee Gees' first hit record "Spicks and Specks" hit Brisbane's radio waves. Then it barely seemed an instant before they were talking to Molly Meldrum on Countdown and in a further second they were off to England to pursue their dreams. We all know what happened after that.

In the way that communities adopt successful people, the Bee Gees were often referred to as Queenslanders, Brisbaneites, or even "the group from Redcliffe". This despite the fact that they were born in the UK and returned there before any real success found them.

The Bee Gees arrived in Brisbane in 1958 and went north to live on the Redcliffe peninsula.  Recently a house that they once lived in caught fire and was badly damaged - the incident made news throughout the country. This is the damaged house, and below that is a photograph of the trio Gibbs from back in those days.
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(Photo: Channel 7 via brisbanetimes.com.au)


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(Photo: Courier Mail)

Brisbane, and especially Redcliffe, have been in a state of excitement for the past few weeks as news spread that the sole remaining member of the Bee Gees, eldest brother Barry, would be coming back to unveil a statue of them and open a laneway commemorating their musical achievements. Prior to the actual event (that occurred on 14 February), anything Bee Gees related was newsworthy. We saw another house that the Gibbs family had lived in (below) and interviews with primary and high school acquaintances. One lady claimed to have been Barry's high school girlfriend until she dumped him! Would that count as 15 minutes of fame, I wonder?
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(Photo: © mustdobrisbane.com)

Hundreds of people gathered at Redcliffe for the celebrations. There was full coverage by the television networks and the other news media. I wasn't able to get there myself, but I certainly followed the events on TV. Here is a photograph of Barry Gibb (in the white panama) with his mother, older sister and other family members admiring the statue and surrounding memorabilia.
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(Photo: Terri Begley, abc.net.au)

Barry Gibb admitted that he and his brothers were tearaways as kids, and that music turned out to be their salvation from a potential life of crime. Obviously emotional as he referred to his twin brothers who have both passed away, he said that he expected to shed a few tears later. The sculptor, Phillip Piperides, was delighted with the finished statue portraying the brothers when Barry was 12 and the twins were 9

Bee Gees Way runs between Sutton St and Redcliffe Parade right near the jetty, and should become one of the area's major tourist attractions.

Click here for a Google Map.

tff



Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Wading pool, Wynnum

Recently the lovely mrs tff had a Monday off as a substitute for having to work on a Saturday. We decided that we wanted to venture to the seaside and have some fish and chips overlooking the water. We estimated that the last time we had done something similar would have been a beach holiday decades earlier.

Anyhow, the venue that we decided on was the bayside suburb of Wynnum, only about 15 km from where we live. We found a feed, although many of the local chipperies were closed for no other reason than it was Monday. I suppose the weekends are their busiest times and they are entitled to rest sometime.

We ate our fish and chips under these trees right next door to a saltwater wading pool that was built in 1932. Here is a picture postcode from 1991. 
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(Photo: Centre for the Government of Queensland)

When I hear of the recessions and austerity programs that are so often talked about today, I think also about the Great Depression of the 1930s. Things must have been really tough then. Rampant unemployment and deflation led to wide-spread poverty, forcing many to live rough and beg for assistance. Where possible, governments introduced public works as a means of providing jobs, and it was as a result of one of those schemes that the wading pool was built. Men on the "susso" were given jobs based on needs - men with bigger families were allocated more work. Here is a photograph of men building the retaining wall for the wading pool in 1932, and below that some families enjoying the completed pool.
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(Photo: wikipedia.com)


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(Photo: Wynnum Historical Society via wikipedia.com)

The opening of the pool in January 1933 attracted a large crowd who were entertained by a yacht race on the bay that was arranged for the occasion. The wading pool has remained popular ever since, and recently the Brisbane City Council forked out $6.5 million to upgrade the facilities and improve safety features - that was completed in 2008. This is the finished product.
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(Photo: http://laras-log.blogspot.com.au)

This place is a haven for families with little children and a very pleasant way to while away a few hours. Best of all - it is absolutely free!

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Friday, March 1, 2013

Inglenook, New Farm

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.
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Photo: homehound.com.au)
 
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.
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 (Photo: homehound.com.au)

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.

tff   
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