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Lamb House

(PID:50818892216) Source
posted by J Explores alias J Explores on Saturday 9th of January 2021 11:00:40 PM

This substantial, two-storeyed brick residence was erected in 1902-03 for John Lamb, co-proprietor of the successful Queen Street drapery establishment of Edwards & Lamb, and a businessman with enlightened attitudes toward his employees. Named ‘Home’, (also known as Lamb House) the house has remained in the sole ownership of the Lamb family since its construction. Designed by eminent architect Alexander B Wilson, the residence embraced the Federation Queen Anne style and is recognised as one of Wilson’s greatest domestic works. Kangaroo Point, originally part of the land of the Jagera and Turrbul people, was one of the earliest localities used for colonial purposes following the establishment of the Moreton Bay Penal Settlement. The Kangaroo Point Cliffs were quarried for their Brisbane tuff, used in building works for the colony, and the area was farmed from 1837. Following the opening of the colony for free settlement in the 1840s, land along the peninsula was offered for sale. Industry and shipping was established along the river front, with modest working-class dwellings dotting the lower-lying areas. By the 1850s, the higher land at Kangaroo Point was attracting wealthy residents who erected substantial homes overlooking the Brisbane River. The highest part of Kangaroo Point was River Terrace, running atop the Kangaroo Point Cliffs. By 1875 the terrace was recognised as ‘beauteous… with its unrivalled coup d’oeil of the great city’, and recommended to visitors for sightseeing. Subdivisions along the east side of the terrace were offered for sale from the 1850s, but the western side was reserved for public purposes, providing a dramatic clifftop promenade between the Kangaroo Point State School and St Mary’s church, at the Main Street intersection, and Leopard Street, a continuation of River Terrace. By the turn of the 20th century Kangaroo Point was a highly appealing residential area, both for its quiet, leafy nature and for its proximity to the city, with ferry and bus services linking the area to the central business district. In 1901, a parcel of eight undeveloped subdivisions on Leopard and Wild streets, at the highest elevation overlooking the Gardens Point, were sold by the mortgagee. The subdivisions surrounded an older residence, ‘Rockfield’, built on the corner of Leopard and Wild streets, circa 1890, for Captain Daniel McGregor. The undeveloped sites had first been offered for sale in October 1852 and granted to John McCabe in 1855. They were transferred to land agent GT Lang in 1882, before they were purchased in August 1901 by John Lamb. English-born John Lamb and his business partner to-be Thomas Edwards arrived in Australia on the ship Cuzco in 1881. After settling briefly in New South Wales, they established a drapery and clothier business in Brisbane’s premier shopping district, Queen Street, in 1884. Edwards and Lamb was one of a number of locally-established drapery firms opened between the 1860s and 1890s, which were the forerunners of Brisbane’s major department stores. By 1888, Edwards and Lamb had made ‘such rapid strides that… it is one of the representative mercantile house of the kind in the colony.’ The firm openly supported workers’ rights, and was actively engaged in the Early Closing Association movement, which campaigned for shorter working hours for retail workers. The movement’s first chair and secretary were both recruited from Edwards and Lamb, and in the 1890s the firm employed Frank McDonnell as a manager-cum-union organiser until McDonnell’s elevation to Queensland Parliament in 1896. This was quickly followed by the passage of the Factories and Shops Act 1896, and the introduction of early closing in its 1900 replacement. McDonnell credited Edwards and Lamb for his success. Following the death of Thomas Edwards in 1897, John Lamb purchased Edwards’ share in the business, and continued it on his own. In 1899, Lamb married Sarah Jeane Stephens in Maryborough, and by 1901 the couple had two children, with a third due in 1902. With his family growing, and his business on firm footing, Lamb purchased the Kangaroo Point sites and moved into temporary accommodation in Leopard Street, pending the construction of a new family residence. Lamb’s timing coincided with a period of steady residential growth in Brisbane. The city had suffered in the 1890s from the combined effects of an economic depression and extensive flooding, and commissions for substantial houses had fallen off. By 1900, the economy was recovering, and businessmen and retailers engaged Brisbane’s prominent architects to design a number of large residences in the inner-city and suburban areas, from Waterton, at Chelmer, circa 1900, for insurance agent Thomas Beevor Steele (architect unknown) (QHR 602340); Drysllwyn, in Auchenflower, c1905, by architect Claude William Chambers, for mining entrepreneur William Davies (QHR 600051); Endrim, at Toowong, 1906, by unknown architect, for tram company director JS Badger (QHR 650071); Turrawan, at Clayfield, 1906, by Hall and Dods, for doctor Arthur Halford (combined surgery/house)(QHR 602452); Cremorne, at Hamilton, circa 1906, by Eaton and Bates, for publican James O'Connor (QHR 600218); Feniton, at New Farm, 1906, by RS Dods, for the Trude family (QHR 650078); to Weemalla, at Corinda, 1909, by RS Dods, for insurance company manager RM Steele (QHR 602820). Lamb engaged architect Alexander Brown Wilson to design his new Kangaroo Point house. Wilson was by then a well-established Brisbane architect, having commenced work with the Queensland Public Works Department in 1875 at the age of 16. From 1882 he was employed as architect FDG Stanley’s principal draftsman, before beginning his architectural training in Brisbane and Europe. He became the first Queensland-trained associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects, returning to Brisbane to open his own architectural practice in 1884. He also helped found the Queensland Institute of Architects in 1888, and served four terms as its president. Wilson’s practice quickly developed into a substantial firm, particularly renowned for its church and domestic designs. Prominent examples of Wilson’s domestic work survive in Brisbane, including Leckhampton (1890, QHR 600246), Kinauld (1888, QHR 600225) and Como (1890, QHR 601474), but his most recognised domestic work was his design for John Lamb. In designing Lamb’s house, Wilson put his personal interpretation on the Queen Anne style. Imported from Britain and the United States, Federation ‘Queen Anne’ was the dominant style in Australian domestic architecture for substantial houses at the turn of the 20th century. Popularised by the influential British architect Richard Norman Shaw, who in the 1870s began designing country houses in an eclectic style combining elements from many periods of traditional English rural building, the style was labelled ‘Queen Anne’ after it became popular in America. In Australia, the style was characterised by: red facebrick walls, often with contrasting white painted ornamentation or timber joinery; complex roof forms with towers and multiple gables; Tudor-style half-timber panelling in gable ends; tall brick chimneys; terracotta detailing; and picturesque asymmetry. Roofs were often French Marseilles tile with a detailed ridge or apex. Verandahs featured ornamental posts, brackets, balustrades and valances. Patterns in leadlight windows, doors and fanlights tended to echo the free curves found in nature as the influence of Art Nouveau on the Queen Anne design became increasingly apparent after the 1900s. Although not as popular or extensively used as in Victoria and New South Wales, the Federation Queen Anne style spread to Queensland and was incorporated into designs from the 1890s until the 1940s. In Queensland the style was often applied to traditional timber houses, influencing their roof forms, timber verandah detailing and other ornamentation. Notable Queen Anne features of the Lamb residence include its red brick composition, terracotta shingle tiles, chimney post, turned timber posts, gables of suggested half-timbering and Classical motifs on the three-storey tower. Wilson drew plans for Lamb’s house, and a specification was detailed in September 1901. Wilson’s design for the residence set out a ground and first floor, with a protruding observation tower. It was of brick construction, with a tiled roof featuring half-timbered detailing to gable-ends; and a concrete-finished entrance porch aligned vertically with the observation tower. The front door, accessed by the porch, led to the central staircase via a vestibule, which had a lavatory to one side. On the river (northern) side of the residence was an eastern drawing room and connected western dining room that both featured fireplaces, architraves, large windows, skirting boards and ‘wainscoting’ (dado panelling). On the southern side of the residence was a morning (breakfast) room to the east, which opened onto the front verandah; with the kitchen, scullery and connected service wing to the west. Upstairs, there were six bedrooms, each of a different size; a small housemaid’s store and press; and a bathroom behind the central staircase. An additional stair climbed the observation tower, which had a viewing platform in response to the house’s prominent position atop the Kangaroo Point Cliffs. Externally, there were two water tanks, a service wing, including a washhouse with fuel store and earth closet, and a full-sized tennis court (56 x 17m).[14] Early photographs from the Leopard Street entrance driveway show various concrete render mouldings, including the residence’s name, Home, above the pediment to the entrance porch; and iron entrance gates set within a front fence with polychromatic brickwork and concrete capping. The specifications also clearly distinguished between the primary and other rooms, requiring cedar and ‘fancy wood’ of a wider profile for timber joinery in the public rooms (including drawing, dining and morning rooms, staircase, vestibule and lavatory) and four principal bedrooms; with pine in the two back bedrooms and kitchen. Pressed metal ceilings and / or ceiling roses were to be located in public rooms and principal bedrooms, with leadlight glazing specified for use in a skylight, the front door, vestibule door, cloak-room (potentially describing the lavatory) window, small windows to dining room fireplace, bathroom windows, some verandah doors, and fanlights over dining room and drawing room windows. The drawing room and main bedroom featured bay windows. Wilson called for tenders for the brick villa in March 1902. The house was constructed over a twelve month period by builder William Anthony at a contract price of £3,250. Work was underway by June 1902, when the ‘fine two-storied residence… commanding a beautiful prospect’ was described in the Brisbane Courier as the main work occupying Wilson’s ‘architectural skill’. The eight subdivisions provided a generous 3133m2 site for the house and its features. The house was positioned near the back of the site, taking advantage of the extensive views, with a driveway from Leopard Street curving around the tennis court. The Leopard Street frontage was lined by a polychromatic brick wall and ornate driveway gates, also designed by Wilson. Fig trees were planted along the Leopard Street frontage to the property, with additional trees and gardens along the northern boundary, the tennis court fence and the circular driveway, which terminated in front of the house. A service entrance ran from Wild Street to the kitchen and service wing. The Lamb family house was completed by April 1903, when Mrs Lamb advertised for a general servant from ‘Home, River terrace’. The youngest of the Lambs’ four children was born in 1905; by 1910, Mrs Lamb, with two servants and a children’s nursemaid, advertised for additional help. The attraction of Kangaroo Point as a quiet but centrally located suburb for the well-to-do continued well into the 1920s. Its reputation as a leafy garden suburb was enhanced in the 1910s when River Terrace was planted with a line of fig trees and garden beds, improving the clifftop promenade. A photograph taken of the River Terrace promenade in 1919 displayed both the vegetation improvements and the view, which terminated in Home and its neighbouring house, Edgecliffe. In 1928 the suburb was recognised as one of the ‘garden suburbs of Brisbane’, with ‘handsome residences, well-kept gardens, wide-streets, and tree-lined avenues.’ From the 1930s, however, houses along the peninsula (including a number of historic homes) were removed for the construction of the Story Bridge (1940) [QHR 600240], and the suburb became increasingly busy. Few changes appear to have been made to Home after its construction. Architect Wilson undertook minor repairs to the property in 1911, and a brick garage was added at the Wild Street boundary by 1925, with the circular driveway removed and extended to the garage. A pavilion was later added to the tennis court (extant by 1942). The trees, which had become substantial by the 1940s, were cut back in the late 1950s or early 1960s. John Lamb senior died in 1920, passing the Edwards and Lamb business to his two sons, John and Frank, and the house to his widow, Sarah. Home was mortgaged in 1922 for the sum of £8,000. Three of the Lamb children did not marry, and continued to reside in the large family residence. Both sons worked for the retail firm, while Sarah and her daughters hosted a number of social and fundraising events at the house in the 1920s and 30s, particularly in aid of the nearby St Mary’s Anglican Church. The three unmarried children also purchased the neighbouring Rockfield in 1941. Following Sarah’s death in 1956, ownership of Home passed to her daughters, who remained resident at the house. The Lamb family business – known both as Edwards and Lambs and simply Lamb’s – operated successfully into the mid-20th century, as one of the renowned Queensland draperies which dominated the state’s retailing market until the 1950s. From the small Queen Street store, it expanded to a large commercial operation with a mail order business for country customers, and was ‘always assured of patronage, especially from country people, who know they are dealing with a reputable establishment’. Until 1921 it relied on word-of-mouth, rather than advertising, for its business. Edwards and Lambs’ premises were extended in 1932 and 1938, doubling the floor size and improving the layout, until it developed a ‘world-wide reputation’ by 1949. A Victory Farm was established at Holland Park during WWII, changing to flowers after the war to decorate the business premises. The Lamb brothers also continued to operate Edwards and Lamb with attention to the welfare of its employees, providing a superannuation scheme and mutual benefits society; additional Christmas holidays; and an extra week’s pay on the firm’s 60th anniversary. As neither a private nor public company, the business was the responsibility of the Lamb brothers, and after both passed away, the firm was sold to Factors Ltd. The sale coincided with the demise of the Queensland-based retailers in the 1960s, when they were superseded by drive-in suburban shopping centres, and sold to large southern retailers. Home’s prominent position and striking style have made it a Brisbane landmark. As early as 1906 the ‘fine residence’ was considered worthy of note amongst the ‘suburban beauties’ of Kangaroo Point, and the ‘stately home’ featured as one of Brisbane’s newer homes photographed for the Queenslander in 1927. Home has featured in numerous publications, including Salon, the Architectural Journal of New South Wales; Towards the Dawn; 150 years of Brisbane River Housing; architectural sketches; blog posts and tourism websites; and picture postcards of the city. Visible along two stretches of the Brisbane River, as well as from the Botanic Gardens, Kangaroo Point Cliffs and South Bank, it has attracted the attention of tourists, and the house was dramatically floodlit for the Royal Visit in 1954. In 2010, Home was recognised by the Australian Institute of Architects as a nationally significant work, as an important landmark, the best known residential work of Wilson, and arguably Brisbane’s most distinguished Queen Anne styled mansion. **Queensland Heritage Register**

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