A Holland Park House
An unassuming house exterior hid the story of one of Brisbane and Queensland’s first female architects, Eunice Slaughter. The design of this 1937 house includes many features which Eunice discussed in a newspaper article about her concepts of the “ideal house”. She worked for the State Advances Corporation (SAC), which was the pre-cursor to the QLD Housing Commission and was responsible for producing affordable homes for the “working class”. This scheme revolutionised home ownership in Queensland, allowing many people who would never previously have been able to afford a home, to achieve the Australian dream. Eunice's work likely involved drawing up the standard plans from which home applicants could choose from when purchasing a house from the SAC, so her house designs are likely found all over Queensland. Her own house, although similar to some SAC designs, featured a much higher-spec interior finish than would usually be found in an SAC house. Unusually, Eunice was incredibly well-paid, not only for a woman, whose average annual wages were generally much less than their male counterparts, but also in comparison with the average men's annual salary for the time. No doubt Eunice helped pave the way for other female architects in Queensland!
HOLLAND PARK HISTORY
The area that is now Holland Park, was occupied by squatters and used to graze sheep after the Moreton Bay penal colony closed. After settlement along the Logan River to the south of Brisbane commenced, a rough track was formed between there and Brisbane. Increasing traffic to Logan and Southport areas over the next few years, including a Cobb and Co coach service, would see this track become a major arterial road south. Settlement along the route followed and it eventually became known as Logan Road. From the 1860s, land along Logan Road was subdivided and sold and numerous farms were established.
Holland Park gets its name from one of these early farmers in the district, Julius Holland. In 1865, Julius, with his brothers, Alfred and David, purchased a large portion of scrub in the area bordered by today’s Cavendish Road, Logan Road, Abbotsleigh Road and Arnold Street. Julius was involved in various businesses before making his fortune through his sugar plantation and mill at Bundall. He purchased the land at Holland Park as a speculative investment, holding onto the land until 1882.
Robert Kurts purchased part of Holland’s land and then subdivided and cleared it. He sold the development as the Holland Park Estate from January 1887. This was the beginning of suburban development in the area. Previously part of Mount Gravatt, the whole area around the estate eventually became known as Holland Park.
In 1926, the tram line was extended along Logan Road from Greenslopes to Holland Park, further stimulating development in the area. Other estate subdivisions and sales in the area followed, including another “Holland Park Estate” on the opposite side of Logan Road in the 1920s. In an era before cars, proximity to the tram terminus was an important selling point, as it meant people could live in the suburbs, but still travel to work in the city.
During the Second World War, an American military hospital was established on Logan Road on the site of a former farm, between Holland and Nursery Roads. When the hospital was vacated, the buildings were used as emergency accommodation by the Queensland Housing Commission, before the entire area was redeveloped for housing.
In 1967, Holland Park West was separated from Holland Park to become a suburb in its own right.
Brothers, Andreas and Johann Heinrich Conrad (known as Conrad) Glindemann, were also early land owners in the Holland Park area. Andreas, Conrad and their sister, Katherine, had arrived in Brisbane from Hamburg in 1863. Also travelling with them was Andreas’ wife, Sophia, and their two children.
On 26 January 1865, Andreas Glindemann purchased just over twenty-seven acres of land on the north-eastern side of Logan Road, near the intersection with Holland Road. On the certificate of title for his land, “Andreas” has been anglicised to “Andrew”.
Conrad married Magdalena Kuder the year after he arrived. He purchased Portion 190, measuring twenty-six and a half acres, shortly after. Andreas and Conrad’s land were neighbouring allotments, fronting Logan Road. Conrad christened his property Heighfields and established the Mount Gravatt Dairy on his land in 1865. It would go on to become the largest dairy farm in Brisbane.
Due to the settlement of the Glindemann and other German families along this stretch of Logan Road, a bridge over a nearby local creek became known as German Bridge. Although the whole area was originally part of Mount Gravatt and then Holland Park, the part of the suburb around the bridge became known as German Bridge, not just the bridge. This must have been very confusing for the postman and visitors!
In 1879, Andrew Glindemann applied for a license to run a hotel from his house on Logan Road, proposing to call it the German Bridge Hotel. Although his application was initially refused, it was eventually approved in January 1880. The hotel would become a landmark in the area and is recorded on various maps.
Although initially run from his residence, it appears a larger, purpose-built hotel was later established closer to Logan Road. By overlaying an 1895 map showing the hotel on a recent aerial photo, it can be seen that the hotel was located near the corner of today’s Logan Road and Murton Avenue, Holland Park. In 1894, the hotel and two acres of land was sold. The German Bridge Hotel remained an operating pub until about 1927. It then operated as a garage briefly, before closing by 1929.
The Glindemann's land was eventually purchased by a company called Provincial Estates. They subdivided the land into suburban sized allotments, ranging between about twenty and forty perches in size. Sales of this “Glindemann’s Estate No. 1” began immediately, with the first lot purchased on 16 January 1930. Some of the land was also dedicated for road purposes, suggesting that many of the streets in this area were formed around this time.
The Glindemann Estate signalled the beginning of the subdivision and residential development of the Glindemann land at Holland Park. However, the remainder of the land would not be developed for housing until after the Second World War, following the closure of the Queensland Housing Commission camp in the former military hospital.
Glindemann Park, Glindemann Creek and Glindemann Drive remain in the area as tributes to this early pioneering family of the district.
One of the allotments in the estate was transferred to Eunice Faith Slaughter and her fiancé, William Percy Ayre in May 1937.
Eunice Faith Slaughter was born to Ernest Alfred Slaughter and Jane Ellen, née Dawe, on 30 March 1903. She went to school at the Central Girls’ and Infants’ School and in 1915 she won an award for her figure drawing. Following her school years, she studied art at the Central Technical College (now the Gardens Point campus of Queensland University of Technology, QUT). A newspaper listing of results, shows that she achieved a Credit for her Freehand Drawing class in 1919.
In 1925 Eunice undertook a Diploma of Architecture through Central Technical College. In the early twentieth century, there were three paths to becoming an architect and although there was a study component, the emphasis was on practical experience. Whilst completing the four year diploma (usually by doing night classes), you could pay fees to “serve articles” with an architect in private practice (much like a trade apprenticeship), you could work as a cadet with a government section or you could gain sufficient qualifications through experience in building. As the latter was not an option for women and many private architectural firms were resistant to employing women, often only government work was available to female architects.
The architect Lange Powell was an early exception to the rule and was ahead of his time in employing numerous women throughout his career. In 1925, Eunice became an articled pupil of Powell whilst undertaking her diploma.
Eunice was one of the first female architects in Queensland, and she was one of very few women working in the architectural profession in Australia at the time. Even more unusual for the era, she was not restricted to the office, but attended site visits herself too. After serving her articles with Lange Powell, she was subsequently employed by the Queensland Government’s State Advances Corporation (SAC). The SAC was responsible for a wide range of social housing schemes, including returned soldiers’ homes, disaster relief housing and war housing. Eunice worked in the Workers’ Dwellings Branch of the SAC.
The Workers’ Dwellings Board was set up to make home ownership more achievable to those on limited incomes. They provided low interest mortgages for the construction of houses on the applicant’s own land or on government selected land. The houses were designed and constructed by the Board and they employed various methods to keep construction costs to a minimum. One way they did this was by offering standard house plans that applicants could choose from.
Eunice’s role with the Board would most likely have involved drafting these standard designs. She may also have been involved in modifying these standard plans to create custom-designed homes for some clients.
In 1935, Eunice was mentioned in a newspaper article about women’s pay in the public service. She is described as a draftswoman in the State Advances Corporation and her annual salary is recorded as between £240 and £340. In 1934, the average wage in Australia for men and women were approximately £212 and £114 respectively. So not only was Eunice’s employment as an architect unusual, she was earning an incredibly high wage for a woman at the time. Her higher education and career is even more interesting considering her working class background. Her father was a coach builder who had transitioned to building motor car bodies and her mother took care of the house.
In 1936, Eunice was again in the newspaper, this time an entire article profiled architecture as a career for women and discussed her views on the ideal house.
Eunice and William married at the Albert Street Methodist Church in Brisbane, on 11 June 1937. William was also an architect and was the son of Percy Richard Ayre and Mary, née Dowley. William is not recorded on the lists of registered architects or public servants at the time, so he may have been working unofficially as an architect for his father’s building company.
Two weeks after their wedding, the Ayres took out a mortgage with the State Advances Corporation. This money was almost certainly used to build a new family home on their Holland Park land. Since Eunice was working for the SAC at the time, it’s curious that she was allowed to borrow money from them, especially since her salary was above what the normal limit would have been to qualify for a loan. The house that was built is certainly not a stock standard SAC or Workers’ Dwelling design either. Perhaps it was an employee scheme, but whatever the situation, the house was almost certainly designed by Eunice, possibly with input from her husband.
Since William’s father was a builder, it is very likely that he was the one that built the house. If he was constructing the house for his son and new daughter-in-law, it would certainly explain the beautiful detailing and high quality of workmanship, especially on the interior. As young professionals they would also have had the means to commission a higher quality of finish.
The couple's new house incorporated many of the concepts highlighted in Eunice’s 1936 article on designing the ideal house. For example, it is low set, with the main roof extending down over the original laundry (instead of it having a separate roof), it has an entry vestibule, low ceilings and the kitchen is within easy reach of the dining room.
The house is similar to some designs from the SAC catalogues and it does incorporate some of the fittings shown in SAC house catalogues. This includes the double-hung sash windows, glazed panel front door and double louvre external front door. The original floorpan of the house is also similar to a design in the 1935 catalogue.
The house also includes features that were ahead of their time, but would eventually become standard, such as built-in cupboards. A review of sewerage plans also confirms that the internal toilet was original. A plan from about 1957, which was drawn up prior to the suburb being connected to sewerage, shows that it was one of the few houses without an external earth or water closet (the small squares marked with “C” on the map). The final confirmation is the “STk” marked at the rear of the house, representing a septic tank. In the outer suburbs of Brisbane in the 1930s, an internal toilet was very modern and is yet another indicator of the expense and luxury of the house when it was built.
The house is a wonderful surviving example of a luxurious and high-quality 1930s home. It was designed by the architect couple, Eunice Faith Ayre (née Slaughter) and William Percy Ayre, and was most likely built by William’s father in 1937. Eunice was one of the first female architects in Queensland and the home exhibits many of the characteristics favoured by her in designing houses. As a result, the house is of heritage significance as a rare example of her work.
References citing the sources of the information contained in this report have been omitted from this online version to make it easier to read. Some images and maps have also been cropped to show details more clearly. Please contact me if you would like a fully referenced copy of the report, or if you want to know where to find the full size versions of the images and maps.