Type of place
This unusual cottage was built c1882 for shipwright John Macfie and his family. Robert and Mary MacMillan bought the property in 1898 and called it ‘Alisa Craig’. It remained with the MacMillan’s descendants until 1970. The cottage was built to the angle of the street and so is L-shaped. This gives this residence a unique appearance when compared with most other nineteenth century cottages around Brisbane.
‘Alisa Craig’, as this house was known in the first decades of the twentieth century, was built for John Macfie, a shipwright. He acquired the site in 1876 and was in residence there with his wife and family by 1883-84. On his death, the property passed to his widow, Christina and their son Alexander, a school teacher. When Christina died in 1898, the property was sold to Mary MacMillan who with her husband Robert continued the pattern of owner occupancy. The MacMillan family appear to have named the property, Ailsa Craig. It remained in the hands of the Macmillan family until after the death of Robert Edward MacMillan in 1970.1
The site forms part of Western Suburban Allotment 28 which was acquired by Thomas Boyland under Deed of Grant on 25 January 1847 at one of the very early land sales held in Brisbane. In the 1870s, the rich farming flats of which this block formed part were gradually subdivided for residential purposes. Robert Cribb, entrepreneur and financier, acquired this block and the three adjoining it in August 1874 [Resubs 1A, 2A, 3A, & 4A of Sub One]. Several months later, Cribb sold this parcel of land as three separate lots. Lot 3A was subdivided in the process, sub “a” with resub 2A going to G.E.T. Daniel, sub “b” with resub 4A being sold to Richard Henry Scholl. Resub 1A was not acquired by Robert Love until August 1875. He then sold the property to John Macfie.1
By 1886, horse drawn trams running from the Boundary Hotel West End to Breakfast Creek provided transport facilities for residents of Norfolk Road.1 The proximity to one’s place of work ensured that once this area was subdivided, it became a desirable location for skilled artisans, particularly those connected with the maritime industries located in South Brisbane, and for the upwardly mobile sections of Brisbane’s population. The provision of transport facilities enhanced the potential of the area. The numbers of residences constructed in West End in the late 1870s and 1880s are indicative of the rapid growth of population and the boom in building at this time. In the twentieth century, industrial development encroached on the area. While Norfolk Road remained relatively intact as a residential neighbourhood, the cordial manufacturing works on the adjacent lot signalled the changing patterns of development. This was highlighted by the construction of the Tristram’s factory on the land to the rear of this block.
One of the few surviving artisans’ residences from that early wave of residential building in the West End area, it underscores the continued importance of maritime-related industries on the South Brisbane peninsula in the nineteenth century. It also reflects that quest for respectability which was a central part of the artisan ethos in the nineteenth century. The prolonged pattern of family owner-occupancy from1882 until the 1970s is also quite unusual for West End.
Located at an angle to the street and L-shaped in plan form this residence is similar to many typical Victorian residences while remaining stylistically contemporaneous. It has a steeply pitched gable roof running into verandah roofs of a lesser pitch. It also has ornate timber brackets and lattice screens between timber verandah posts, and the main roof has a timber finial and carved timber barge boards. The body of the house is horizontal timber boarding and the whole has been raised on a brick base extending to a lower level at the rear. The verandah of the rear portion of the L has been boarded up. Casement windows on the side wall have aluminium sun hoods. A white picket fence is situated at the front of the site with a gate and a tiled path and steps leading to a screen door onto the verandah.
Statement of significance
Relevant assessment criteria
This is a place of local heritage significance and meets one or more of the local heritage criteria under the Heritage planning scheme policy of the Brisbane City Plan 2014. It is significant because:
The place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of the city's or local area’s history
representing the variety of small houses and allotments that dominated South Brisbane's conversion from rich farmland to Victorian era suburb in the 1870s and 1880s.
The place demonstrates rare, uncommon or endangered aspects of the city’s or local area’s cultural heritage
with its unique exterior appearance and its shape contrasting with other 1880s cottages across Brisbane.
The place is important because of its aesthetic significance
being an L-shaped, 1880s cottage built to the angle of Norfolk Road.
Post Office Directories, Titles Office Records
Titles Office Records
Greenwood and Laverty, Brisbane 1859 – 1959, p. 438
Citation prepared by — Brisbane City Council (page revised September 2020)