One of the first actions of Queensland’s inaugural parliament was to vote £10,000 towards the design and construction of a Government House. Considering Queensland’s population at the time was only 25,000 people, this was a large amount of money and showed just how important the building of this house was to the new colony. Government House had to serve three distinct purposes. The house was a Home for the Governor and his family, a key administrative office for Queensland, and a hub for elite social events in the colony.
The newly-appointed Government Architect, Charles Tiffin, completed the plans for the House within weeks. His drawings were of a grand Greek Revival style house, incorporating a number of adaptations to better suit Brisbane’s sub-tropical climate. The building’s position on a ‘delightful’ rise of ground in the reserved government domain commanded ‘a splendid view of the river’.
Tiffin was a significant figure in mid-Victorian architecture in Australia. He went on to design more than 300 of Queensland’s public buildings, including Parliament House. Tiffin was extremely proud of his work on Government House noting that it was “the most economical vice-regal residence in the Australian Colonies”. It remains today one of his finest achievements.