Shafston House in Kangaroo Point | A Heritage-Listed Victorian Gothic-Style Villa

Photo credit: Shiftchange/Wikimedia Commons

Shafston House in Kangaroo Point is an enchanting Victorian Gothic-style villa that sits on a land that slopes down to the Brisbane River. It comprises several buildings including the original house and its kitchen, the former ward block, and the former postal depot.

The house is associated with some of Queensland’s most prominent historical personalities. It was also a long-term hostel for the totally and permanently incapacitated servicemen returning from the Great War.

Shafston House, considered as the third oldest house in Queensland, was constructed in several stages between 1851 and 1904. In 1851, Rev. Robert Creyke purchased the property on the frontage of the Brisbane River and started the construction of a single-storey house he named Ravenscott.

Side view of the Shafston House showing the kitchen wing

Photo credit: PDM/Wikimedia Commons

In December 1852, the property was transferred to Henry Stuart Russell, who finished the house and renamed it Shafston. The house is believed to have been renamed after his wife’s birthplace in Jamaica.

The property was offered for sale in 1854 and 1855 but no ownership changed until Louis Hope bought in October 1859. Hope did not reside at Shafston but instead had it rented to tenants. One of his tenants was Dr Henry Challinor, who would later become a member of the Queensland Parliament.

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In mid-1883, the ownership of the Shafston House was transferred to Charles Milne Foster and Mary Jane Foster. The Fosters lived at the Shafston House until 1896 and were reputed to have remodelled the original structure with FDG Stanley being responsible for the new Gothic design of the house.

The third alteration of the house happened in 1904 when pastoralist James Henry McConnel took ownership. The McConnels resided at Shafston until circa 1913. In 1915, the house became a teacher training centre after it was leased to the Creche and Kindergarten Association.

The Commonwealth government acquired the Shafston House in 1919, after WWI, and converted it into an Anzac Hostel. The house served as a repatriation hospital providing care and treatment to the totally incapacitated ex-servicemen. The conversion into an Anzac Hostel meant extensive alterations including the construction of an open-sided ward block in the terraced front grounds to the northeast of the house.

1930 photo of the front view of the Shafston House

Photo credit: PDM/Wikimedia Commons

From 1969  to 1987 the Royal Australian Air Force used the property as an administrative headquarters and mess. A number of alterations were made during this time, including the installation of a bar and fire-escapes, new street entrances, new driveways, and tree planting along the Castlebar Street and southern boundaries.

The Shafston House was included in the Commonwealth Register of the National Estate in 1978. Gary Balkin leased the property in 1988 and planned to convert it into a restaurant and function venue but failed to obtain approval from the local government. Once again, the structure was converted into a residence.

Photo credit: Shiftchange/Wikimedia Commons

The lease was transferred to entrepreneur Keith Lloyd in 1994. The property was redeveloped as part of the Shafston International College. Between 1998 and 2002, the property was converted to freehold title.

Promo video of Shafston College featuring the Shafston House

Video Credit:打工度假霖達留學/YouTube

In 2005, Shafston House was added to the Queensland Heritage Register list.

“The house retained its status as a gentleman’s residence for over 60 years during which time it was associated with a number of prominent persons who helped shape the pattern of development of Queensland, including Rev. Robert Creyke who began construction of the house in 1851, Darling Downs pastoralist and politician Henry Stuart Russell who completed the house in 1852 in its Gothic form and named the property ‘Shafston’, the Hon. Louis Hope who owned the property from 1859 to the early 1880s, the Foster family (of ironmongers Foster & Kelk) who reputedly remodelling the house in the early 1880s and pastoralist James Henry McConnel of Cressbrook whose family commissioned the architect RS Dods to further modify the house,” the Queensland Heritage Register website said about the significance of the house in the evolution or pattern of Queensland’s history.

Photo credit: Centre for the Government of Queensland/queenslandplaces.com.au

“Shafston House is an evolving house with major renovations in the 1850s, 1880s and 1900s, that has maintained a cohesive aesthetic appeal. The aesthetic significance is engendered principally by the picturesque values of the Victorian Gothic style of architecture (including the decorative detailing) and the garden layout and riverside setting,” the Queensland Heritage Register website further said.