One of the most prominent homes in Queensland’s history, this iconic landmark was built in 1846 and has been occupied by some of Brisbane’s most influential colonial figures, including Patrick Leslie, Captain John Clements Wickham and George Harris. Newstead House, Brisbane’s oldest standing residence is the jewel in the crown of South East Queensland’s historic properties.
Now operating as a living museum, the grand home is furnished to reflect the occupation of the Harris family, who were in residence between 1862 and 1890. As you wander around the generous verandas, which offer sweeping views over Newstead Park to the Brisbane River, you cannot help wonder what life was like in the early days and how much the vista has changed.
The core of Newstead House is the 1846 two-storey brick and stone Georgian cottage built by Patrick Leslie, one of the pioneers of the Darling Downs. In 1847, Leslie sold the property to his brother-in-law, Captain Wickham, who was Police Magistrate and Government Resident of Moreton Bay until Separation in 1859. The house became the unofficial government house during this time.
From 1862 politician and merchant George Harris owned Newstead House. Architect James Cowlishaw undertook extensive renovations between 1865 and 1867, adding four rooms to each end and creating a basement from the original ground floor rooms. There was also an expansion of the servants’ quarters built by Captain Wickham. The Harris family led a lavish lifestyle, and by 1874 had mortgaged the property to James Taylor of Toowoomba, who became the owner in 1876. The Harrises continued to lease the property until 1890.
The house had many occupants in the subsequent 20 years, until the Council of the City of Brisbane purchased the property for parkland in 1915. The Superintendent of Parks, Harry Moore, moved into the house in late 1917 and initiated the redesign of the grounds, which became known as Newstead Park. From May 1932, the Queensland Historical Society used three rooms of Newstead House as a historical library and museum. Moore and his family continued to live in the property until 1938. By 1939 the Board of Trustees had been established to manage the property.
Today Newstead House enjoys a resurgence of community interaction and participation through innovative programming, exhibitions, education programs and welcomes domestic and international visitors.