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Top 10 Historical Open House Venues

Home > Brisbane > Places of Interest | Lists | Historic Houses | Free | Architecture
by May Cross (subscribe)
I'm a writer, artist and keen photographer.
Published October 1st 2018
Have a sneaky peek inside these heritage buildings
The best weekend of the year is 13th and 14th October. You can visit heritage houses, award-winning architectural buildings and other cultural icons in and around Brisbane all for FREE. This year's Brisbane Open House has been launched with 114 buildings, 30 events, concerts and 20 walking tours. Since its inception in 2010, the Office of the Queensland Government Architect has actively promoted the Open House concept across Queensland and the quality and variety is impressive. The chock-a-block program truly has something for everyone, including children. Visit the Official Brisbane Open House website and unlock all the details or get your downloadable program.

St johns cathedral, cathedral, vault
The only fully stone-vaulted ceiling in Australia (May Cross)


My Top 10 Picks
Here are my top choices including Brisbane's most popular building, Queensland's oldest continuously used building, a few museums, churches and cathedrals plus a couple of very famous "houses" (Parliament and Old Government). All of them are of historical importance and are architecturally significant. They are all located in Brisbane's CBD and are walking distance from each other. I have listed them in order for you to do in a big loop in case you wish to cram all 10 of them into one day! And best of all, they are all absolutely FREE for visitors during Open House weekend and none of them require pre-booking. Make sure you mark your calendar for this big weekend.

Brisbane open house, open, house, historic, city hall,
Brisbane City Hall (May Cross)


1. Brisbane City Hall
Enjoy strolling through this beautifully restored Neo-classical building in King George Square. If you have children in tow, don't miss the wonderful Museum of Brisbane (MoB), have a ride up the clock tower, or take a break in the historic Shingle Inn Cafe - whose fittings and furnishings came from the original Shingle Inn Cafe that was located on Edward Street. When City Hall was opened in 1930, it was Brisbane's tallest building. MoB on the third floor is part of the living history of the city, exploring the "ordinary" people and places of Brisbane that have extraordinary tales to tell and it has special activities for kids.

Brisbane open house, open, house, historic, albert st uniting church, may cross
Albert Street Uniting Church (May Cross)


2. Albert Street Uniting Church
This church, on the corner of Ann and Albert Streets, was built in the popular Gothic style of architecture, blending it with Brisbane's climatic conditions. The most prominent external feature of this wedding cake-like decorative church is its spire which soars to a height of 42 metres from street level.

Brisbane open house, open, house, historic, st andrew, may cross
Saint Andrew's Uniting Church (May Cross)


3. Saint Andrew's Uniting Church
This church on the corner of Ann and Creek Streets is of the Neo-Romanesque style of architecture. It was designed by George David Payne and is an excellent example of its kind. Don't miss the Peace Chapel with World War honour boards, the communion set from Gallipoli, stained glass windows by William Bustard and the Vera Wade Gallery.

Brisbane open house, open, house, historic, all saints, may cross
All Saints' Church (May Cross)


4. All Saints' Church
This is the oldest continually used Anglican church in Brisbane. You will find it at 32 Wickham Terrace. It was established by Bishop Tufnell and was built in 1869 a hammer beam roof which is unique in Australia. It also boasts one of only three Lewis Organs in Australia.

Brisbane open house, open, house, historic, st johns cathedral, may cross
St John's Cathedral (May Cross)


5. St John's Cathedral
This 19th-century Gothic-Revival cathedral is at 373 Ann Street. It has a fully stone-vaulted ceiling, extensive wood carvings, 160 stained glass lancets, intricate stone sculptures and a font made from 350 million years old fossilised limestone!

Brisbane open house, open, house, historic, st Stephens, may cross
Saint Stephen's (May Cross)


6. Cathedral of Saint Stephen
St Stephen, at 249 Elizabeth Street, is a fine example of the Neo-Gothic style. The cathedral houses many historical arts and treasures. Don't forget to visit St Stephen's Chapel which adjoins the cathedral and was the first church in Queensland, dating from 1850.

Brisbane open house, open, house, historic,
MacArthur Museum Brisbane (May Cross)


7. MacArthur Museum Brisbane
You are invited to visit the restored office of General Douglas MacArthur who was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in the South West Pacific during World War II. And it's here in Brisbane, at 201 Edward Street, you can discover what it was like to live in our city during the war years. This museum was featured on TV's Tony Robinson Down Under.

old government house, may cross, open house
Old Government House (May Cross)


8. Old Government House
Located at 2 George Street in the QUT Gardens Point Campus, this beautiful sandstone building was once the colonial hub of the city. Laws and deals were made there; grand balls were held there and royalty stayed there. Built-in 1862 and now fully restored, it is a house museum well worth a visit.

qld parliament house, government, may cross
Queensland Parliament House (May Cross)


9. Queensland Parliament House
Parliament House on the corner of George and Alice Streets is one of Queensland's most beautiful and historically significant buildings. Visitors will be able to walk through the halls of power where our parliament has met since 1868.

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Commissariat Store (May Cross)


10. Commissariat Store
The Commissariat store museum at 115 William street is home to the Royal Historical Society Of Queensland. The convict-built structure, dating from 1829, was originally a storehouse for the Moreton Bay Penal Colony and is Queensland's oldest continuously used building. Between 10 am and 4 pm, you can learn all about Brisbane's brutal convict beginnings.

commissariat store, convict built, RHSQ, May Cross
A Museum built by Convicts (May Cross)


I hope you enjoy learning more about these important heritage buildings and that you get some great photos. You can share your snaps here if you like.
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Why? To look behind the scenes of Brisbane's heritage buildings
When: Saturday 13 October to Sunday 14 October
Phone: 0474 325 488
Where: All over Brisbane
Cost: FREE Event
Your Comment
Isn't it wonderful, that there are still free sites to visit in the city.
by lockw (score: 2|136) 4 days ago
Loved this May. Like you I get excited about heritage buildings. Great photos as well
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (score: 3|5262) 13 days ago
Great read, May. Thanks for sharing
by May (score: 2|413) 13 days ago
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