From the mid 1870s the population of Brisbane increased markedly and a rise in residential settlement began to occur. Brisbane’s population had grown to 47, 000 by 1881. It was during the 1880s that the greatest changes to the residential settlement patterns occurred. This was due to several factors including an expanding economy, expansion of infrastructure including extended tram and train services, improved communication systems, and an increase in immigration to Brisbane. By 1891 Brisbane’s population had increased to over 100, 000.
By the 1890s, the Stones Corner and Coorparoo area included a socio-economic mix that ranged from farmers to politicians. These included Frederick Brentnall M.L.C., James Stodart M.L.A. and Walter Henry Barnes M.L.A., business men such as Nathaniel Lade, James Hipwood and Reuben Nicklin and important public servants such as Edward Deshon C.M.G., Reginald Mulholland King, James Evan Burstall and T.W. Connah. Coorparoo, while not distant from the city, was a semi-rural area until the 1910s. Then the population began to increase rapidly due to the extension of the tramline to Stones Corner in 1915.
One of the important Coorparoo roads became Cavendish Road with its plethora of hilltops. This road developed into an elite address for a small number of wealthy local residents. By the 1890s, there were six such families living along Cavendish Road between Old Cleveland and Chatsworth Roads and in 1914 this number had increased to ten. They built their large houses on acreage sites, employed domestic staff and had such amenities as kitchen gardens, orchards, fowl houses and tennis courts.
The interwar period heralded a period both of residential expansion and developmental consolidation in Brisbane. With the extension of tramlines, suburbs such as Greenslopes, Camp Hill and Coorparoo experienced major increases in residential development throughout the 1920s and 1930s.
Immediately after the Second World War, Australia experienced a severe building material shortage. With this came tight governmental controls on building sizes and styles. These restrictions were not lifted until 1952. Significantly the Sullivan’s Building was constructed during this period and is important as an example of the post-war commercial development that occurred in the Coorparoo area.
Prior to 1952 James Anthony Sullivan owned a butchers shop at 334 Old Cleveland Road, Coorparoo. In 1952 Sullivan built the two storey rendered masonry building as an investment property. It was originally designed to accommodate a dental clinic on the first floor and retail premises on the ground floor.
Only eight years after the Sullivan’s Building was constructed the Coorparoo Myer building was opened on the opposite corner of Cavendish and Old Cleveland Road to Sullivan’s, thus establishing this part of Coorparoo as a retail and commercial centre.