Monday, March 17, 2014

Abbotsleigh and Abbotsford, Bowen Hills

I owe Miss Florence Lord, the author of the three-year series "Brisbane's Historic Homes" that featured in The Queenslander way back in the 1930s, grateful recognition. Her work spanned 180 residences in 156 articles, and those articles have been invaluable in presenting the historical basis for many of the pieces in Your Brisbane: Past and Present.

In November 1932 one of her articles was about two dwellings on Abbotsford Rd at Bowen Hills - Abbotsford and Abbotsleigh - shown in the photograph above, unfortunately a low-res scan from the magazine.  Miss Lord's article provides the following information about the two houses.

Abbotsford was constructed around 1870 by Mr Francis Beattie, the owner of a Queen St hat shop and also a member of parliament and local alderman. The house was subsequently owned by the Corrigan family, Brisbane hoteliers, who subdivided the property and moved the house closer to Abbotsford Rd. After the Corrigans left the residence it became a boarding house, and following that it may have been the residence for the station master of the nearby Bowen Hills railway station.

Abbotsleigh was built by Mr George Keen around 1890, replacing an older building that dated from 1876. It is a high-set house with an attic, and has attractive ironwork around the upper-level verandah.
These houses still exist, listed on the Brisbane City Council heritage register, but not on that of the State.

A nearby resident and regular reader of this blog, Wes, has contacted me several times to voice concern over the future of these buildings. Builders' shingles have gone up around Abbotsleigh, so it will be interesting to observe what transpires on the site. When I took the following photographs there were men working on and in the building.

 (Photos: © 2014 the foto fanatic)

A look at the builder's Facebook page reveals the following:

So, on face value, it would appear that Abbotsleigh will undergo a refurbishment. Let's hope that it emerges better than before.

With regard to the other building, Abbotsford, Wes has cited a proposal for the site to be "redeveloped", with the heritage residence to be moved and apartments, townhouses and commercial structures to be erected on what is a significantly sized piece of land.

Here is a current photograph of Abbotsford. Unfortunately it has already been altered - the original attic and dormer windows have been modified - and it looks in need of some TLC.   
(Photo: © 2014 the foto fanatic)

I don't think that anyone could argue that Brisbane's history has been exemplary in the past when the word "redevelopment" is used. Just recently Brisbane City Council approved an application to demolish the historic (but not heritage listed) O'Reilly's Bonded Stores in Margaret St to enable the site to be redeveloped, a decision that was subsequently overturned by the State government. We have also seen a couple of heritage buildings that were subject to redevelopment plans demolished after being torched by arsonists. Of course I am not suggesting that arson is linked to redevelopment, but the fact remains that once these structures are demolished redevelopment of the sites is a lot more likely. The issue is the maintenance and security of these old buildings.

Once again, I am not suggesting that anything inappropriate is occurring with either of these properties. That should not stop us from being vigilant.

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  1. I have seen photos of the inside of the fire damaged Abbotsleigh on a FaceBook page. I hope they restore it to it's former glory.

  2. Unfortunately Abbotsleigh has been de-heritaged so it can go and the site can be redeveloped. How does this happen? Well you get a heritage assessment firm to provide a report that says the building is not as original as it should be, and then everything else seemingly falls into place. Lovely old building, shame it couldn't be preserved.

  3. I would just like to inform you that I did alot of work to save Abbotsleigh after it was burnt...and unfortunately today I found out that there is an application now in the E.D.Q to bulldoze the house to make way for a new development. I will fight again to save it once more but I am distraught and dismayed that all of my hard work may have been for nothing...the house caught fire on the 17th of Dec 2011, I know this because I live next door to this house and smelt the smoke and Neighbors and myself called the fire brigade to save it... it was left dormant for a couple of years after this and squaters and vagrants inhabited the premises and countless calls to the police were made to ensure that it did not once more fall into a situation that may have caused it to "accidentally" burn down again..This was a deliberate act by the then owner and developer and now a new developer is circling... I caught him sizing up the property last week and so I enquired but at the time I was too ill to pursue my concerns at his obvious lack of interest in the house. I asked him, what is happening to the property because it was rebuilt but left empty after subsequent sale for over a year, he replied...not sure yet...which worried me..Today I rang council and Grace Graces office to find out that an application has been accepted to potentially accept this proposal to demolish.. This is outrageous and it is clear the rebuilding of the house was just a ploy to bide time until it redevelopment could go through with a different government body... And all I can say is over my dead body will that development and demolishment go ahead.. will keep you posted... you can contact me on 0423254673 here is the link to the proposed development application.


  5. All Heritage Listed Buildings have some alterations or rebuilding. Does anyone Suggest the Tower of London is the same Building as it was in the 12th Century?
    Clearly reading this it is shocking and reflects the contempt for our Heritage that is the Vogue. We need to fight for it or we lose it!


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