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History of The Manor Apartment Hotel

Book Manor Apartments Hotel Brisbane

History

The building was constructed between 1930 and 1931 for Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society (CML). The Queensland Branch of CML was formed in June 1874 and the society built offices at 62 Queen Street in 1883. CML purchased this site in August 1906 and constructed a new premises. These offices were demolished in 1930 to enable the construction of a new commodious building on the site for the expanding society.  Between 1925 and 1934 much of the south side of Queen Street was redeveloped, including National Mutual Life Association Building (1926), the Commonwealth Bank (1929) and the AMP Building (1931 – 4).
To compensate for the site's narrow frontage of 33 feet (9.9 metres), an agreement was made between the Commonwealth authorities, who administer the adjoining GPO, and CML to allow a "right-of-way to extend the full depth of the building". The Benedict stone used for the facing, a mixture of cement and crushed porphyry (Brisbane tuff) was manufactured by Benedict Stone (Qld) Pty Ltd which was established by Archbishop Duhig to manufacture the stone required for the Holy Name Cathedral, Fortitude Valley. The product was developed at the turn of the twentieth century by American manufacturer, Benedict. Duhig obtained a licence from America and opened the Benedict Stone works at Bowen Hills on 9 August 1929. In February 1930 CML advanced Duhig a 70,000 mortgage on his properties which included the tone works. A mutually dependent relationship developed between CML, Duhig and Jack Hennessey, architect. CML used Benedict stone to build a number of their Australian offices, ensuring some of their mortgage was repaid and employed Hennessey and Concrete Construction (Qld) Ltd, Brisbane. Concrete Construction (Qld) Ltd also built the CML offices in Sydney and Melbourne. George Harvey was responsible for the masonry work on the building and may have created the gargoyles on the façade. The stone was delivered and positioned within seven months, setting an Australian record for stonework. Built during an economic depression, its construction provided employment for many Queensland workers.

On 12 November 1931 the CML building was officially opened by the Governor, Lieutenant-General Sir John Goodwin. The ground floor provided offices for Colonial Mutual and the arcade leading to Queen Street contained retail premises. The offices and professional suites on the upper floors were available for lease. Queensland Newspapers purchased the site in September 1983, cleaned and repaired the exterior and re-opened the building as Newspaper House on 11 September 1985.

Description

This inter-war commercial building is ten storeys high with a narrow frontage to Queen Street and a long side elevation. It has been designed in sympathy with adjoining buildings, matching the facade of the GPO at its base and responding to the parapet line of Custom Credit House in its upper levels. The building has a concrete encased steel frame with concrete floors and is faced in Benedict Stone the colours of which range from green to pink. The style of the sculptured ornament on the building facades is influenced by American Art Deco buildings of this period, as well as containing some Norman influence. It is similar in style to interstate Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Ltd buildings.
The building has three paired window bays across the Queen Street façade. Three double height arched openings occur at the ground floor level. On the level above are paired window openings with arched heads and a central ornamented column. The two levels below the top floor have paired window bays which are similar but double the height. At the base of these is an imitation balcony with balusters supported on brackets. In this way the building has both a distinctive top and base. A similar projecting balcony occurs in front of the central window bay on the level below. Above the double height bays at the base of the top level sculptured lions stand on projecting brackets. The one facing the corner is winged. The parapet has raised portions each with a projecting stylized eagle "gargoyle". Similar gargoyles appear in the same location a level below and also below each projecting flag post above the third floor.

The entire Queen Street façade is repeated at each end of the side elevation, the central bays of which are plainer. Behind the parapet the building has an interesting roofscape of steeply pitched terracotta tiled roofs, one above the caretakers quarters and another over the lift room on the eleventh floor. At street level individual awnings have been located between the archways. From the rear laneway the building duplicates much of the front façade but is painted.

Internally the original detailing remains in the fire stairs, including the handrail and tiled landings. All the levels have been refurbished with suspended ceilings that sit below the window heads.

289 Queen Street
Brisbane QLD 4000
Ph: +61 7 3319 4700
Fax: 07 3319 4777
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Book Manor Apartments Hotel Brisbane