Tuesday, 5 January 2010


I discovered something about our house yesterday afternoon...

We are not entirely sure when the Sow's Ear was built. We've pin-pointed it to perhaps the mid 30s. Some of our friends who are architects and builders all seem to agree the house is pre-WWII, but built sometime in the 1930s.

Although that should be satisfactory enough, I am curious to find more detailed information.

The barrel bolt incident last week has made me mindful of our renovations to the Sow's Ear. Our renovation needs to be respectful to not only the style of architecture but also sympathetic to its humble history. Knowing the history of our home can only make our renovation decisions slightly more informed.

(Brisbane's architectural history had been under valued by local and state authorities of the past - some would argue that it still is under valued. It was very nearly destroyed in the 1980s with the outrageous demolition of important cultural buildings and the removal of about 1000 Queenslander homes per year. Here is an interesting post about the demolition of Cloudland from the blog - Your Brisbane Past and Present.)

Anyway, there is a fabulous document, produced by the Brisbane City Council, for helping residents research the history of their house - Your house has a history: keys to unlocking its past. It includes a real case study of a Queenslander home which I think is a cool chronicle to have as a homeowner - regardless of the age of your home.

I also spoke to a friend who is a Heritage Architect for the Queensland Government who gave me a few extra hints to guide my research.

With this education, I called the Titles Office to arrange an historical title search. Although it didn't give me an exact date, it did give me details regarding the original subdivision of the land and when mortgages were taken out on the property.

I did a quick google search and it appears that Herbert also held quite a few mineral leases between 1871 and 1940

Our parcel of land was part of a subdivision in 1888 by Herbert Alfred Watson. The next time it changed hands was in 1927. It was transferred to two spinsters (Zoila Ceferina Mabel Stables and Florence Mary Ethel Stables) and a man (Stanley Day Stables) who were joint tenants in common. The Title also shows that the Stables purchased the block next door (not Boo's block the one on the otherside) in 1931.

Interesting that women were advertised as spinsters - how times have changed. And what about the bloke?

They presumably built this house on the vacant block (but I don't know that for sure). The property was to remain in the family for over 60 years until Stanley died in 1988. The Certificate of Title tells me that Florence did not remain a spinster and was married in 1933 to Alan Lucy. She died in 1971. No word as to what happened to spinster Zoila.

The property has changed hands three times since Stanley's death - 1990, 2004 and finally 2009, when Jason and I bought the property.

The information we have gives us no details about the house, but at least we know it definitely does not pre-date 1927.

My next port of call is to make an appointment with Brisbane City Council Archives to research their building records to see what else I can uncover about this Sow's Ear. I need to know more.


  1. How exciting to find all of this information! The spinsters are especially interesting I think...somewhat romantic, no?

  2. So interesting! It is so exciting living in a house with a history! Our house was built by my family so nothing interesting here! Good luck with the research!

  3. I love finding out the history of a house too. Great Sleuth work there girlie! Have fun finding out more and do let us know...

  4. My goodness Anita! That has got to be so exciting! That is so cool that you were able to discover all of that history on your house! I wonder if they have some sort of historical plaque you can display on your house? We have that sort of thing here in the States.. Through historical preservation & historical societies..

    Cant wait to hear what else you discover!

    Big Hugs ~ Teresa

  5. Laura, it could be romantic, yes! I think there is a story to be told with those spinsters.

    Oh Monika, in 80 years time someone will blog about your family home - imagine all the joy you will give them!!

    Ange - you barefoot renovator you - will keep you posted.

    Teresa, no plaques for houses of this vintage - we're just thankful it hadn't been demolished!

  6. Hi Anita.. Teresa again... I left an Award for you on my Blog! Come by & Visit to receive it..

    Blessings ~ Teresa

  7. Wow! How exciting doing the research. Amazing history I bet. Good luck with finding out more!

  8. The more research, the better! Especially in a house with a heritage overlay!


  9. I've only just read this now. You can call me Johnny Come Lately. I don't mind. Fascinating stuff. I love knowing the story behind things and having a sense of history. x


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