As the first major post-separation building erected in Brisbane, Old Government House, circa 1860-62, also wears the mantle of the only purpose-built Government House in Queensland.
Built by Brisbane’s Mayor of the time, Joshua Jeays, and designed in classical revival style by colonial architect Charles Tiffin (who was also the architect of the nearby Parliament House), its first resident was Queensland’s first governor George Bowen – after whom George St is named – and his wife Diamantina. It is notably smaller than other Government Houses around Australia due to the intention, which never eventuated, to build a larger main one out in the countryside.
Having spent the first few years of their tenure at Adelaide House (now the Deanery of St John’s Cathedral) the imposing 1853 hilltop residence of Dr Hobbs overlooking Adelaide St, the Bowens moved into this small scale Government House in 1862. With its location on the edge of the City Botanic Gardens Walter Hill, Curator was also put in charge of the gardens of Government House, of which Lady Bowen was purported to have taken a great interest and had input.
When in 1968 George Bowen was recalled to England, Samuel Blackall was sworn in as Governor and during his residence the tropical-influenced verandahs were added as well as another wing.
However the house was never truly suited to the scale of reception required for a growing state and when the University of Queensland was established and selected the surrounding grounds as a campus site in 1909, a new Government House was called for. The Governor of the day William McGregor moved out in 1910 to today’s Government House - Fernberg at Paddington, in what was thought to be a temporary measure.