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Changes

Completed in May 1862 the House was subject to a number of changes, additions and improvements over the coming years to keep it in line with technological advancements and with the increasing hospitalities demanded of it.

1866 Piped tap water installed
Candle lighting replaced with 170 gas lights (electric lighting not installed until 1910)
1872 Roofs added to first floor balconies and piazzas to protect the upper level from Brisbane’s tropical storms
1873 New kitchen wing and cellar added
1874 Roofs added to first floor staff balconies
1878 Sandstone carriage portico built over main entrance
1879 Two internal toilet blocks built onto south-east wall of courtyard
1883 First telephones installed
1888 Electric Bell System installed replacing pull-cord system of calling servants
1889 Housekeeper’s Room built
1896 Slate roof replaced with wide-pan galvanized iron
1899 Billiard Room of Helidon sandstone built at rear of House

The interior decoration of the House was a feature that changed in some way with each new family – it was the duty of the governor’s wife to transform it into a family home in line with their personal tastes. A horrified Lady Lamington arrived in April 1896 to discover that ‘they had done up all the rooms too fearfully’; but within a month she had redecorated and declared that ‘in every way this is such a nice House’.

By the turn of the century, ongoing concerns over the House’s inadequate size and inability to accommodate the extensive hospitalities demanded of it became too obvious to ignore. Queensland’s population had grown considerably since the House was built in 1862 and the lengthy guest lists to vice-regal functions now outstripped its capacity. In 1909 on Queensland’s 50th anniversary the decision was made to move the governor to a temporary residence, Fernberg, while a larger house was to be built in Victoria Park. It was a controversial decision, and in June the following year Sir William MacGregor became the last serving governor to pull out of the carriageway and the House became known as Old Government House. Plans for the new building at Victoria Park stalled at the laying of a foundation stone, and in 1911 the government bought Fernberg which continues to serve as Queensland’s Government House today.