So with quite a lot of help from a fellow Auchenflower blogger, I have been looking into the history of our home.
I suppose you might be thinking, “Why?” or something worse, but I guess I have some predilection for the dreaminess of history. And sadly there is not much actual meat to the facts you find — just random names and dates from long, long ago and perhaps some other minor details — but it’s fantastic to dig and with every bit of discovery — let your imagination swim around those few skerricks of information and perhaps build a mental time machine that transports you around this home you know and love.
But there’s also a real mystery to this house.
Although the original/cool part of the house is over 100 years old, and the land has been owned privately since 1862 (a very early land release in Brisbane) — the house wasn’t built at this site. It seems the house was built and lived in at some other location for about 70% of it’s lifespan — then split in two — and transported here at about 1980/81.
This was only discovered through viewing the aerial survey of Brisbane made by the Council in 1946. And when I zoomed in on the site of our house all that was there was grass and trees and the roll of the land. The next-door house on our right was there, a much more humble version it should be said — but our house was bizarrely absent.
But that strangely made a bit of sense because when we first had the building properly inspected (during the settlement process) we discovered a lot of recent timber in the roof and it seemed the floorboards were all modern too (except for the deck). Half the living room had ancient VJs and the other half were from a different period. And that is not to mention the extension out the back and then the other extension in the 2000s to modernise the kitchen. It was a real jigsaw puzzle then and is now even more so.
So my awesome blogging-history-helper delved a little more into the records and discovered a name — “Palazzi” — who had bought the property in the 1980s and had got building approval for some sort of structure. Bang! So I fired off a few snail-mail letters explaining the mystery and seeking help to all the “Palazzi’s” in the phone book. And there were only two — so not such a big deal. That was a week ago and no response as yet — but it is early days.
Upon asking another quasi-local-history buff — she told me houses got moved all the time in Queensland. Indeed then I remembered the house next door when we lived in Clayfield was shipped off to Macleay Island in the dead of the night. And although there are no real signs of the house being split in two — dad was saying they split it along the natural joins and so it looks like a jigsaw puzzle when split but looks entirely natural when put back together. And seeing as they replaced the stumps, the floorboards, the roof timber and perhaps the tin on the roof too, it would be a pretty simple move.
But then something else was weird. From all the records for a few weeks we believed the house was the product of a bloke called John Potts who in 1890 acquired the land here and then took out a mortgage — presumably to build a house. 1891 seemed to be the magic date where our house began. That date was just amazing to discover. What else was going on in Brisbane at that time — and the world?
And then 25 years or so later it became the property of a Herbert Lindsay — a railway worker — with 2 sons and 5 daughters who died in 1936 but the land stayed in that family for another 45 years — another epic tale. The house had a dynasty.
So trying to learn more about Herbert and his family I was trying to decipher the handwriting on the title note (because the middle name was obscure) and posted it Facebook. And the consensus was “Colross” or “Colrass” and soon enough my mate Andrew posted a link to a Trove story about Herbert’s death and his address. And that address wasn’t here. BANG! It was the house directly behind us. So suddenly everything made sense. Our land was part of their backyard and was eventually sub-divided.
So where now? I don’t know, but hopefully the Palazzi people get back to me. But there is more searching on Trove and Ancestry.com.au to do.
My mum is visiting from Melbourne this weekend and yesterday upon hearing the story above we decided to try and track down the house in Auchenflower where my first memories of the world were. See mum (and dad) had totally forgotten where it was — how does that happen? We did move around a lot. By 12 I had lived in 11 houses/flats over two States and four towns. Anyway mum drew a little map of how she remembered getting to the house from Milton Road and we did some google map searching and eventually we found a location that made sense. Then we trekked off to find it. It was a bit of harrowing journey for mum — I forget how ridiculously steep the streets here are.
Being only 3 (almost 4) back then — the things I remembered about the location of that house were limited to the fact it at the top of a hill, and the road had a kink in it and the house was wooden and raised and the cars parked underneath. So when we got to Patterson Street and stood outside mum was instantly convinced this was it. Mystery solved. And I was convinced too — the street indeed had that kink and the house was on a hill etc.
I desperately wanted to knock on the door and look at my old room (which I do remember) but no one was home and just standing outside looking intensely at the building seemed pretty creepy enough already.