Greystaines is a heritage-listed apartment block at 240 Kingsford Smith Drive, Hamilton, City of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. It was designed by George Rae and built from 1934 onwards by Douglas Francis Roberts. It is also known as Greystaines Flats. It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 26 May 2006.
Greystaines is a substantial, three-storeyed block of flats erected in 1934 for Mr Sydney James Dove and his wife Audree Thomasina Dove. The architect was George Rae, a Brisbane-based architect who designed some of Brisbane's best interwar flat buildings.
The land along the southern slope of Hamilton Hill, overlooking the Brisbane River and with frontage to the road along the river leading to Eagle Farm was first proclaimed for sale in September 1853. Allotments 6 to 9 of portion 1 (totalling just under 32 acres) were acquired by William Robert Howe Weekes.
In 1857 access to the area was improved by the construction of a bridge over Breakfast Creek near the confluence with the Brisbane River. From the early 1860s many of the Hamilton allotments were subdivided into smaller parcels, attracting a number of prominent middle-class residents who built comfortable homes on the slopes of Hamilton (later Toorak) and Hemmant (later Eldernell) hills, overlooking the river. Weekes subdivided his land about 1865, creating much of today's pattern of subdivision and roads in the area, including Hillside Crescent, Eden Lane, Crescent Road (originally Weekes Street) and Arran Avenue (originally Robert Street). On the long strip of land at the foot of Hamilton Hill bounded by Hillside Crescent, Eden Lane and Crescent, Hamilton and Toorak roads, two substantial homes had been erected by 1883. "Braesid" occupied the western third of the site and "Norwood", the home of Brisbane dentist David Eden from the late 1870s, occupied the eastern two-thirds. The later site of Greystaines formed part of the Norwood Estate.
By the mid-1890s a house was extant to the east of Norwood, still within the Norwood estate and appears to have occupied the later site of Greystaines. In 1906, Eden resurveyed the Norwood estate and sold off the eastern half, with boundaries to Eden's Lane, Hamilton Road and Crescent Road, in two parcels. The site of the flats was transferred to George Longland who occupied a residence at this location from at least 1908. An aerial photograph dated c. 1925 shows a large house on the site.
Longland transferred his interest in this property to Jessie Jane Buchanan, as trustee, in 1918 and she transferred the property to Alan Gordon Corrie in 1923. Following Corrie's death in 1925, the property was transferred in late 1928/early 1929 to Sydney James Dove and his wife Audree Thomasina Dove, as joint tenants. In 1934 Mr and Mrs Dove commissioned Brisbane architect George Rae to design a modern block of six brick flats for the site.
The site was well chosen for the construction of a purpose-built flat building, offering a number of attractions to potential tenants. The position was high, with extensive views overlooking the Brisbane River and adjacent suburbs; the tram service along Hamilton Road (later Kingsford Smith Drive) provided regular, reliable access to the Brisbane central business district and to inner city attractions such as theatres and restaurants; and the two street frontages made for greater convenience of access. Given this prime location in one of Brisbane's premier residential suburbs, the site warranted a substantial, well-designed building that offered flats of a comfortable size and convenience attracting middle class occupants who could afford a comparatively higher rent.
George Rae was in his early thirties and one of Brisbane's most successful young architects. He had just established his own architectural practice in Brisbane (1933) after working in partnership in this city as Atkinson, Powell and Conrad 1927-31 and Lange L Powell and George Rae 1931-33. These were among the most prominent architectural firms of the day. Rae designed a variety of buildings, including new forms of architectural construction to Brisbane such as picture theatres and residential flats. His more substantial purpose-designed flat buildings are amongst the most important of their type and their period in Brisbane. They include: Carrington (corner of Warry Street and Gregory Terrace, Spring Hill) erected in 1933; Highview (on Dornoch Terrace, Highgate Hill) designed in 1933-34; Casa del Mar (44 Moray Street, New Farm) erected in 1934; Greystaines (240 Hamilton Road, Hamilton) constructed in 1934; and Green Gables (Julius Street Flats New Farm) (corner of Julius and Moray streets, New Farm) erected in 1935.
By April 1934 Rae had completed the design for Greystaines Flats and was calling tenders for the construction. In mid-1934 the contract was let to well-known Brisbane master builder Douglas Francis Roberts, who resided nearby at Albion. When Brisbane City Council building approval was obtained early in June 1934, the flats were priced at £4,000. This represented a substantial investment for a Brisbane flat building, where most of the better class of brick or concrete flat buildings of this period cost between $3,000 and $6,000 to construct (exclusive land costs).
In mid-1934 Mr and Mrs Dove took out a mortgage on their Hamilton Road property, which possibly financed the construction of Greystaines.
Early in November 1934 the Courier-Mail reported that Greystaines flats had been completed and published a photograph of the new building. The design was considered very modern and "a Colonial adaptation of Mediterranean architectural style". The flats were of a comfortable size, well appointed and finished and clearly were intended for middle-class tenants.
These flats, which command a magnificent view of the Hamilton Reach of the Brisbane River, are roofed with mottled tiles. All the flats possess separate garages, which are approached from a higher level in Crescent Road [sic]. Each flat contains two bedrooms, lounge, living room, laundry, kitchen, and bathroom, also front and back balconies. The interior wall decorations are tastefully treated in paper, and the bathrooms are tiled.
Greystaines was erected during a revival of a flat building "boom" in Brisbane in the interwar period. The first purpose-designed flat buildings had been introduced to Brisbane c. 1920 and were concentrated in the inner suburbs, including New Farm, Fortitude Valley, Spring Hill, Petrie Terrace, Kangaroo Point and South Brisbane. It took some time for Brisbane to accept this new form of multiple dwelling residency, but by the late 1920s flat buildings were becoming increasingly popular investments. This interest in purpose-built flat construction was curtailed by the severe economic depression of the early 1930s, but with the easing of the depression the construction of purpose-built flats led the recovery in Brisbane residential construction from 1933. In 1933-34 flat buildings reputedly were returning up to 8-12% on capital and were one of the most attractive small investments of the day.
There had been limited activity in purpose-built flat construction in Hamilton prior to this period and Greystaines, constructed in 1934, was one of the first of the larger blocks of residential flats erected in this suburb. In the second half of the 1930s Hamilton became a popular venue for purpose-built flat construction, rivalling New Farm as a focus for flat developments. Many of the larger blocks of flats erected along the southern slopes of Hamilton/Toorak and Eldernell hills in the period 1934–41 survive. Amongst these Greystaines, with its prominent riverine presence in the townscape, makes a notable aesthetic, architectural and historical contribution.
In the 1930s there was no provision for strata title of property, so the construction of purpose-built flats tended to be a long-term investment for developers, rather than a speculative venture aimed at rapid on-selling. Mr and Mrs Dove retained ownership of Greystaines Flats until the property was transferred to Guy Dart Atherton in July 1941. Ownership changed again in 1950, when sold to Thomas Keith Watson Muir or £15,000, who retained the property for nearly 30 years.
Around 1950 part of the frontage of the flats was resumed to allow widening of the road. However, the building remains on a single title, unlike many other purpose-built interwar flat buildings that since the 1990s have been strata titled. It has recently changed hands and is in the process of being converted into a single dwelling.
Although changes have occurred over time, notably the addition of a metal staircase and bridge to the rear and the insertion of floor tiles and some aluminium windows in the 1970s, the building and its gardens remain substantially intact.
Greystaines is situated on the south east slope of Toorak or Hamilton Hill, fronting Kingsford Smith Drive and has expansive views of the Brisbane River and across Bulimba, Newstead and the City centre. There is pedestrian access only from Kingsford Smith Drive, the road being cut down well below the property level. Vehicle access is via Eden Lane at the rear, which is accessed via Hillside Crescent.
The building is a substantial, three-storeyed rendered brick structure in an adaptation of Mediterranean style. It has a multi-hipped roof clad in terracotta tiles. The central bay in the front elevation has a wide gable, below which, on each level, is an arcaded verandah with barley twist columns supporting the arches. These open onto exposed balconies with balustrades. The balustrades on the upper two levels are solid masonry. The balcony on the lower level has concrete balusters and extends across the entire frontage. Either side of the central front bay there are projecting bays with bay windows with later window frames. These side bays have quoining to the edges.
Each of the two upper floors contains two suites of mirror image rooms, while the basement level has arched doorways. This lower level was at one time used as one flat and was later divided by a cement block wall, which has been removed. Modern sliding doors close off the balconies and most windows are metal-framed sashes.
No original bathrooms or kitchens survive. A timber stair and landing remains.
Detailing is spare and well executed. Cornices are plain, skirtings are simple and the same moulding has been used at picture rail height in some rooms. There is a wide plate rail in the halls. Doors have full height vertical recessed panels and the drawing rooms on the upper floors have wide doors with multiple rectangular panes of glass set in narrow cames.
Each of the suites of rooms comprised an open area to back and front, a master bedroom with a bay window, second bedroom, rectangular drawing room, kitchen and bathroom and was accessed by internal stairs. There is also a terrace and stairs to the front and a set of unsympathetic metal stairs at the rear. A metal bridge of similar construction joins the top floor to the street behind.
The front garden slopes steeply toward Kingsford Smith Drive. It is terraced but overgrown. At the rear of the site is a small, two-storey building with a steeply pitched gabled roof with a modern colour-finished metal cladding. It has two rooms on the upper level and four rooms containing toilet and laundry facilities below.
The building makes a strong aesthetic contribution to the streetscape along Kingsford Smith Drive and is prominent when viewed from the Hamilton Reach of the Brisbane River.
Greystaines was listed on the Queensland Heritage Register on 26 May 2006 having satisfied the following criteria.
The place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of Queensland's history.
Greystaines was erected in 1934 at the onset of a boom in purpose-built flat construction in Brisbane and as such, is important in illustrating part of the pattern of Queensland's history. There had been limited activity in purpose-built flat construction in Hamilton prior to this period and Greystaines was one of the first of the larger blocks of residential flats erected in this suburb. In the second half of the 1930s Hamilton became a popular venue for purpose-built flat construction in Brisbane, rivalling New Farm as a focus for flat developments. Purpose-built flat buildings were a phenomenon of the interwar period in Brisbane. They represented a new and modern form of living and their architecture reflected fashionable modern styles of the period. The service building to the rear of Greystaines appears to be related to an earlier house on site reflects the subdivision and redevelopment of many early large estates at this period.
The place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of cultural places.
Greystaines is a good and substantially intact example of its type and is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a purpose-built block of flats of the interwar period, aimed at attracting middle-class tenants. These characteristics include the location along a former tram service; the form, the substantial materials, the popular Mediterranean style, the quality of the design, the attention to good quality finishes and the provision of facilities such as garages and private laundries. The amenity of its elevated location with extensive views is also a characteristic of the better quality flats of this era. Greystaines is important also in demonstrating the principal characteristics of the work of architect George Rae, one of the more successful interwar architects in Brisbane, who designed a number of Brisbane's better quality, purpose-designed, middle-class flat buildings. As a group, Brisbane's surviving purpose-designed flat buildings of the interwar period contribute to our understanding of the evolution of this particular form of multiple occupancy residential building and the work of George Rae in particular makes a strong contribution to our understanding of this type.
The place is important because of its aesthetic significance.
The building makes a strong aesthetic contribution to the Hamilton townscape along Kingsford Smith Drive and is prominent when viewed from the Hamilton Reach of the Brisbane River. It has made a significant aesthetic contribution to the Hamilton townscape since 1934.