Thursday, July 25, 2024

Historic Brisbane property reopens following $6.65m renovation

Brisbane’s oldest European residential property, Newstead House, has re-opened to the public today following a $6.65 million renovation.

Evolving from a modest two-level Georgian cottage established in 1846 to the grand villa residence of today, Newstead House occupies an important place in the story of Brisbane’s evolution from the Moreton Bay penal settlement to a world-class city.

Now a living house museum and listed on the Queensland Heritage Register, the iconic landmark has contributed to the city’s social, cultural and historic lore for 178 years.

“Newstead House provides a remarkable link to key points in Brisbane’s history – from its early colonial days to its role in World War Two, to today where many Brisbane residents have celebrated personal milestones in the building or the beautiful surrounds of Newstead Park,” said Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Leanne Linard.

“I commend the Board of Trustees for the meticulous work they have done to ensure this renovation project aligns to the style of the mid-to-late 1800s.”

The three-year restoration presents period decoration, furnishings and other elements to reflect when local businessman George Harris and his family were in residence from 1862 to 1889. The House grew to its current size in this period.

Exterior and interior works included replacing roof tiles with Welsh slate shingles to match original materials; much needed stone and brick conservation; repairing timber frames, flooring and screens; extensive drainage works and refinishing internal floors and walls.

Extensive research, including a physical investigation ensured adherence to period style.

Repainting the exterior of the main residence in a blue shade with stone-coloured details was done to reflect a colour scheme used by the Harris family, while the annexe was repainted using another colour scheme to highlight that it was erected in the decade after the Harris’ departure.

Wallpaper remnants found on the walls in the house were used to recreate interior treatments with screen-printed patterns, while ceiling lighting was replaced with a museum-quality, floor-lit system.

“We are grateful to the Queensland Government for its generous investment and commitment to preserve and protect our state’s oldest and most-cherished domestic dwelling from the early days of European settlement,”  said Board of Trustees of Newstead House chair, Claire Moore.

“We are proud to see Newstead House restored to its original late-1800s glory when it was known for the Harris family’s lavish lifestyle and extravagant society parties.

“Three years in the making, the conservation work showcases the result of deep research and expert liaison by the project team for a historically accurate interpretation of how the villa in its present form and layout would have looked during this time.

“This labour of love has given this grand dame a much-needed facelift, well-deserved after 178 years and ensuring Newstead House is once again the life of the party,” she said.

The original cottage was built for Scottish settler and future politician Patrick Leslie and his wife Catherine (Kate). Newstead House has been home to many prominent families and influential identities over the years. During World War II, it was commandeered by the United States Army and housed troops, becoming the barracks for the Photographic Detachment of the 832nd Signal Service Company.

Find out more at newsteadhouse.com.au.

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