This building has lived many lives. Its journey began 159 years ago as a private home under the name of Cairncross House; an extremely rare example of colonial architecture built out of Brisbane’s heritage tuff. By the late 1860’s, the nun’s from Sisters of Mercy had converted it into an orphanage. 20 years later, a former premier of Queensland reclaimed it as his home. By this time, it had a new name; St Clair. The building was described as ‘one of the most substantially-built private residences in Brisbane.’ St Clair was used as a private hospital in the 1890’s before being sold to the Midgley family in 1903.
The Midgley family had a daughter – Annie. Annie Midgley converted her family home into a private school to aid the overcrowding at New farm state school across the road. She called it ‘Miss Midgley’s Educational Establishment.’
Annie Midgley was an artist and a teacher. She was ambidextrous, could instruct two pupils at the one time and write with both hands simultaneously. She painted in oils and water colours, modelled plaster busts and took up wood carving. Loved by her students, she was meticulously dressed with collars buttoned up the neck and lace up boots that went nearly as high.
116 years after Miss Midgley’s Educational Establishment opened, our story begins.
We knew immediately that Miss Midgley would be our inspiration on the building’s next journey.