Skip links and keyboard navigation

South Brisbane Library (former)

  • 600302
  • 472 Stanley Street, South Brisbane


Also known as
South Brisbane Post and Telegraph / Office South Brisbane; Mechanics Institute and Library / South Brisbane Technical; College / South Brisbane Municipal Library and School of Arts
State Heritage
Register status
Date entered
21 October 1992
Communications: Post and telegraph office
Education, research, scientific facility: Art gallery
Education, research, scientific facility: College—technical
Education, research, scientific facility: Library
Recreation and entertainment: Concert hall
8.2 Creating social and cultural institutions: Cultural activities
8.3 Creating social and cultural institutions: Organisations and societies
9.3 Educating Queenslanders: Educating adults
9.4 Educating Queenslanders: Providing tertiary education
Stanley, Francis Drummond Greville
Macfarlane, W
Construction period
1881–1902, South Brisbane Library (former) (1881 - 1902)
Historical period
1870s–1890s Late 19th century


472 Stanley Street, South Brisbane
Brisbane City Council
-27.48258355, 153.02640928


Street view

Photography is provided by Google Street View and may include third-party images. Images show the vicinity of the heritage place which may not be visible.

Request a boundary map

A printable boundary map report can be emailed to you.


Criterion AThe place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of Queensland’s history.

The former South Brisbane Library is significant historically for its importance as the former Post and Telegraph Office, mechanic's institute, technical college, library, art gallery, and concert hall of South Brisbane, and remains a tangible reminder of civic identity. It is also significant as a marker of the former alignment of Stanley Street, the main commercial thoroughfare of South Brisbane in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Criterion DThe place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of cultural places.

Despite internal refurbishment, the former concert hall remains important in illustrating the principal characteristics of an early 20th century auditorium designed to address the warm Queensland climate.

Criterion EThe place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

The building demonstrates a visual cohesiveness, despite having been constructed in several stages to the designs of at least three architects, and makes a significant landmark and aesthetic contribution to the historic precinct centred around South Brisbane Memorial Park. It is a significant component of the riverside townscape as seen from the city.

Criterion HThe place has a special association with the life or work of a particular person, group or organisation of importance in Queensland’s history.

is an important example of the public work of Brisbane architect AB Wilson.


This complex is composed of three structures built at different times in response to different needs: the South Brisbane Post Office [1881]; the South Brisbane Municipal Library [1897]; and the City Concert Hall [1902].

The South Brisbane Post Office located on the traditional land of the Turrbal and Jagera peoples, was designed by FDG Stanley and W Macfarlane was the contractor. The one-room post office occupied the ground floor. The postmaster's accommodation included three bedrooms and verandah upstairs and basement diningroom, kitchen and bedroom. The original symmetrical front facade included a ground floor arcade with an open verandah above. The central focus was the arched masonry frontispiece.

The Post and Telegraph Office was closed in late 1889 to become the South Brisbane Mechanics Institute and Library. In 1893 the South Brisbane Municipal Council took over the site.

About 1897, the council with the help of a government subsidy built the corner structure and the complex became known as the South Brisbane Municipal Library and Technical College. John Henry Burley is said to be the architect.

The third stage is the concert hall designed by Alexander B Wilson in 1902. This building included Technical College classrooms in the basement.

In 1909 the council was offered the Richard J Randall collection of artwork. About the same time, with the government take-over of the Technical College, many classrooms became vacant. The council decided to convert the library on the first floor into an art gallery.

Architect George David Payne was employed to convert the former library to the Randall Art Gallery and extend the concert hall and supper room. About 1911 the hall was enlarged at the river end and the supper room extended so that they were capable of seating 600 and 400 persons respectively. The Gallery was officially opened in July 1914.

Between 1910 and 1920 the post office section was rendered and the front enclosed.

The Greater Brisbane City Council took over the structure in 1925 and the library continued to function until 1973. However, the Randall collection was transferred to the Brisbane City Hall. For many years the concert hall continued to be well patronised particularly during the Second World War [1939-45].

Between 1973 and about 1987 the building was neglected and vandalised. The derelict library was refurbished for World Expo '88 as a convention centre and exclusive club. The exterior was painted and the interior was substantially altered to provide two large conference rooms and club rooms. The former Post Office section was converted to modern offices and concrete stairs installed.

After Expo '88 the building was not utilised until the Queensland Academy of Sport occupied it in 1995 and used the concert hall as a running track. In 2005 the building was purchased by Griffith University for use as a film school, and a new section, designed by architect Hamilton Wilson and containing a verandah, stairs and workrooms, was added to the northwest side. In 2007 the Griffith Film School was officially opened. It continues to operate in the building in 2024.


The former South Brisbane Library stands on the corner of Stanley and Dock Streets in South Brisbane, in a precinct of historic buildings centred around South Brisbane Memorial Park. It is opposite the former South Brisbane Municipal Chambers [600306] and adjacent to the former South Brisbane Railway Easement [600293] and South Brisbane Dry Dock [600301]. Other historically significant places in the immediate vicinity include Cumbooquepa (Somerville House) [600305] and Ship Inn.

It comprises three abutting, interlinked sections forming a single, L-shaped building: the former South Brisbane Post and Telegraph Office (1882) fronting south to Stanley Street; the former South Brisbane Library and Technical College (1898), attached to its eastern side at the intersection of Stanley and Dock streets; and the former City Concert Hall (1902), attached to the library’s northern side, fronting Dock Street. The building has brick walls with rendered dressings, timber-framed floors and intersecting gable and hip roofs clad with corrugated metal sheets. The sections share similar or matching architectural features. A modern, concrete, steel and glass, three-storey structure (2006) has been constructed in the crook of the building’s L-shape and is not of state-level cultural heritage significance.

The former Post and Telegraph Office section is a square, two-storey, brick building with basement, and a hip roof. Its Stanley Street (front) elevation has large, multi-paned windows, (including a pair of faceted bay windows), a wide awning roof supported by large timber brackets, and a central, pediment-like gablet. Its western elevation is simpler, with few windows, and its northern (rear) elevation, abutted by the modern structure, has a two-storey verandah that has been enclosed.

The former South Brisbane Library and Technical College section is a long and narrow, two-storey, brick building. It has a long gable roof, with a gablet facing Stanley Street, and a square-based, three-storey tower above its main entrance at the street corner. The Dock Street elevation is simpler, with windows at regular intervals separated by pilasters and a secondary entrance at the northern end. Its western elevation has an open, two-level verandah.

The former concert hall section is a long, rectangular, one-storey building with a hip roof with a continuous raised ridge ventilator. It accommodates a large auditorium with timber panelled dados, plaster raked ceilings and an unadorned proscenium stage. French doors open onto a verandah on its western side.

Image gallery


Location of South Brisbane Library (former) within Queensland
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last reviewed
1 July 2022
Last updated
20 February 2022