The construction of the South Brisbane graving dock in 1881 and the 1884 opening of the Woolloongabba Railway Station (on the northeastern corner of Stanley and Merton Road) brought suburban and country customers to Stanley Street. Commercial development flourished and Stanley Street became lined with the premises of grocers, ironmongers and bootmakers. Recognising the commercial potential of Stanley Street, prominent retailers such as Allan & Stark and J. & T. Heaslop established businesses there. The fire station and post and telegraph office were erected near the intersection of Stanley and Vulture Streets, making this region the civic centre of South Brisbane. Stanley Street became inadequate for the increasing volume of traffic and in 1883 the street, between Vulture Street and Annerley Road was widened. Stanley Street, between Annerley Road and Merton Road, was widened by the Woolloongabba Divisional Board in 1886.
During the 1890s, a period of economic depression, there was a decline in the economic activity in Stanley Street. The situation was aggravated by severe flooding in 1890 and 1893, which caused many retailers to move to higher ground on the north side of Brisbane. The construction of Melbourne Street station in 1891 also took customers away from Stanley Street and into the city. As the Queensland economy improved in the early twentieth century, development returned to Stanley Street.
By 1918 the condition of Stanley Street had deteriorated to the extent that the South Brisbane Council spent £2,000 remaking and metalling the street. Anxious to stimulate commerce, in 1920 this Council implemented a programme of reconstruction, allocating £56,000 to build permanent roadways in Stanley and Melbourne Streets. In 1927, the land on the northern or riverside of Stanley Street, from Annerley Road to Merton Road, was resumed and the existing shops were demolished. This section of Stanley Street was doubled in width and the tram tracks were re-aligned. New commercial premises were constructed at the completion of this work.
With the exception of those buildings mentioned earlier, the majority of buildings that comprise the Stanley Street streetscape are from this era or later. The typical late twenties, early thirties commercial architecture of this streetscape is best indicated by the former Magee's Drapery Emporium.
The business partnership of Murray and Magee, drapers, was operating on this site circa1905, apparently from rented premises. The buildings on this site were demolished following the road resumption that happened in Stanley Street in 1927. The property was purchased by the Malouf family in September 1927 and sold to members of the Magee family in February 1928. In May 1928, Magee & Co applied to erect a brick shop on this site. The builder was M. Dwyer of Hendra and the architect was A. Wilson, presumably Alex B Wilson of the architect firm Alex B. and R. Martin Wilson. This may have been one of Wilson’s last designs, as he retired during 1928. Magee’s Drapery Emporium was erected shortly after and remained in family ownership until January 1945.
As with most regional commercial centres, the development trends in Stanley Street, reflect the statewide economic fluctuations. The last economic boom along Stanley Street had occurred in the 1920s and little growth took place after that decade. Postwar, the ‘Magee’s Drapery Emporium’ building was occupied by Ford’s Music. From the 1990s, it has contained an adult entertainment venue.