Carol Marsh, who see’s herself as the current custodian of these beautiful heritage stone cottages, shares a brief history about these significant buildings:
The stone terrace houses at 17 and 19 Gloucester St., Spring Hill have been “resident” there since 1867. They are semi-detached, 2 up and 4 down terrace houses (with detached kitchens) built of Brisbane tuff and sand-stone trim on land which was sub-divided in 1852. They were built for two Scottish families – the Low family and the Grigor family. William Grigor arrived in Moreton Bay in 1855. Grigor and his friend (and business partner) James Low acquired the adjoining properties in 1867 and proceeded to construct the houses.
Grigor and Low were timber-getters in the Brisbane region. This may account for the high quality of cedar timber trim throughout the houses – this is still evidenced particularly in #19. The ceilings and walls were constructed of timber and lath – timber work includes cedar trim and skirting boards, doors, deep reveals and mantle pieces. Some other terrace houses of the time in Gloucester St. were built of similar materials – bricks manufactured at Yorks Hollow (now Victoria Park) and window glass was made nearby.
Number 19 is a very rare example of an early inner-city residence. The interior is highly intact and was listed on the Qld State Heritage register in 1993. When #19 was purchased by the present owner in the late 90’s, the then owner was Mrs. Jean Smith who was an executor of the Grigor family estate which had owned the house for around 120 years.
The current owner renovated and restored #19 in the late 1990’s. When it was purchased it was very run down and almost derelict. The restoration was done in strict accordance with Heritage guidelines. It is interesting to note that the original wood burning stove/cooker was still in the detached kitchen at the rear of the house. It is now a very comfortable family home adjacent to the CBD.
Number 17 was renovated by Mrs Gloria Tier in the early 1980’s. The architect, Geoffrey Pye, was a prominent Brisbane architect of the time. The house is known for it’s most famous tenant, Andrea Stombuco who was a well-known architect. He was Italian who emigrated to Melbourne and arrived in Brisbane in 1875, He was very talented and designed and built eight churches, three convents/schools, thirteen private residences and eight commercial buildings. Well-known Brisbane buildings included St. Patricks (Fortitude Valley), All Hallows School (the original building dates from 1881) , Her Majesty’s Theatre (now demolished), “Bertholme” (now the Moreton Club) in New Farm and Palmarosa House (designed to be his own home) at Hamilton.
When #17 was being renovated by Mrs Tier, a pool was constructed in the rear courtyard. During excavation for the pool, a well was uncovered – this would have been an integral part of the original water resources of the houses. Spring Hill was known to be a water source for early Brisbane. #17 is not a heritage listed property. How-ever it is an integral and important feature of the “streetscape” of Gloucester St.
Over the street from these houses are the “Gloucester Street twins”. These are timber ”terrace” houses which have both recently been renovated. One of the houses bears a plaque “John Walls Cottage 1882”
On a lighter note, there is record of complaints of a neighbour further up Gloucester St (a Mr Losch) about the sewage aromas arising from Mr Strombuco’s attempts to build a flushing toilet in the backyard.
HISTORIC STONE TERRACE HOUSES, SPRING HILL, QLD by Carol Marsh, local property owner.