Places

Some places of interest in Queensland and beyond.

Embassy Hotel – a very 1920s hotel

February 2018

The Embassy Hotel on the corner Edward and Elizabeth streets, Brisbane was constructed in 1928-9. It was designed by architect JP Donoghue and is a very 1920s hotel There are three defining characteristics that distinquish this hotel as of the 1920s era and which sets it apart from earlier hotels in Brisbane

The architectural style

The building is in the Commercial Palazzo style which is characterised by base (ground floor), shaft (levels 1-3 and cornice.

Cantilevered awning

In 1922, the Brisbane City Council adopted a policy that all new awnings over footpaths in the principal business streets were to conform to the cantilevered design. (Telegraph 12 November 1922). Consequently, a defining feature of 1920s hotels in the Brisbane CBD was the cantilevered awning. While the cantilevered awning was a distinctive feature of 1920s hotels in the CBD, it also had other consequences for hotel design. Until this time, hotels had awnings supported by posts with verandahs on the upper levels. Verandahs on the upper levels was very typical not only of hotels in the Brisbane CBD but throughout Queensland. No more in Brisbane, at least after 1922.

The lift and high rise

The Embassy Hotel was originally of four storeys ( a fifth was added in the 1950s). he inclusion of a lift in the Embassy Hotel is also a distinctive element of 1920s hotels. Brisbane CBD. Hotels built prior to World War 1 were generally of one or two storeys. Lift technology was not used extensively in any buildings in Brisbane prior to World War 1. In the 1920s, multi-storey buildings became more common and lifts were an integral part of these buildings. as in the Embassy Hotel.

Location

Brisbane Dental Hospital – some secrets

February 2018

The Brisbane Dental Hospital is located prominently on the corner of Turbot and Albert streets, Brisbane. To the casual observer, there is nothing unusual about this well designed and substantial building. It was erected in 1938 -1941 as the main public dental hospital in Brisbane and the University of Queensland Dental College. But the building has some secrets that are clearly observable from the outside.

First, why is the building located well above the level of Turbot and Albert streets. It is clear that substantail excavation was necessary to provide the level ground on which the building now sits. But why not excavate to the level of the footpath to make the building readily accessible to the public. The simple answer – it wasn’t possible. The building sits over the railway tunnel from Roma Station to Central Station and could not have been any lower. This situation presented a major A major challenge for the design and construction of the building. Bridging the tunnel necessitated supporting the building of 5000 tons on six special concrete beams. In addition the problem of vibration was also an issue for the architects and engineers which was overcome by placing ‘special anti-vibration footings which acted like shock-absorbers at the base of the steel stanchions that rest on the beams’. (The Telegraph, 28 March 1941)

Second, look closely at the windows on the front and side. Yes, the windows for the ground floor and first floor are obvious, but what of the series of smaller windows between the two levels. The building was constructed with a mezzanine level to accommodate ducting for airconditioning. This was the first government building in Queensland to be fully air-conditioned. The very substantial plant was located on the roof and ducted to the mezzanine level and to the basement.

Location

St Helena prison

May 2014

St Helena Prison was opend in 1865 as a result of overcrowding in the Petrie Terrace gaol. Farming was a major activity within the prison including cropping, dairying, cattle and sugar. A lime kiln was also part of the prison’s operations.

Remnants of prisoners barracks

Lime kiln on the southern end of the island.

Remnants of sugar mill

Location

Peel Island Lazaret

May 2014

Peel Island Lazaret was opened in 1907 and closed in 1959. The lazaret was established to enable leprosy patients to the completely segegrated from the rest of society.

Most of the buildings remain including patients’ huts, dining room, staff quarters and the cemetery. Patients were segregated into three areas: white males, white females and coloured.

Huts for ‘Coloured’ patients. These huts were of built of corrugated iron with earth floors.

Huts for white females. These huts differed from the male huts with a kitchenette.

Lazaret cemetery. For many patients, once they were sent to the island, they spent the rest of their lives there.

Location

Old Rainworth Fort

May 2014

Old Rainworth Fort is located 10 kilometres of Spring in central Queensland. Before visiting the place in June 2013, I was a little skeptical about the claims of being a ‘fort’. But even a short assessment proved otherwise. This building was clearly built as a fortified structure. Openings on only one side and slits in the walls at two levels.

Significantly this building was erected after the major conflict at the nearby Cullinlaringo station when 19 Europeans were killed in October 1861.

Main internal space with stairs to loft.

Loft space. Note the slits around the top of wall.

The only openings were on the eastern with timbers doors and presumably originally timber shutters.

Location