As a result of the coming of the railway increased development around Taringa Station occurred. New houses, shops and facilities appeared as the area was subdivided and settled. The efficient public transport into the city meant that many white-collar workers began to call Taringa home and throughout the district large, architect designed homes were built.
In 1884 the ‘South Toowong Estate’ was created with 173 new subdivisions in the area now known as Taringa. The hill on which the Estate was situated was known as ‘Ellerslie’ and was marketed at the wealthy and professional, “Situated on the rise of a hill known as Ellerslie, alongside the Railway line, commanding views of the whole City of Brisbane, two reaches of the Brisbane River, and the surrounding mountain scenery. High and dry… suitable for superior residences on sites absolutely unequalled”. One of the main selling points for the estate was the proximity to the railway station that ensured ease of transport into and out of the City centre. This appealed to professionals that worked in the City.
Several stately homes already existed within the estate including ‘Wilcelyn’ on Belle Vue Parade and ‘Ellerslie’ on Ellerslie Crescent. In 1900 Frederick Robert Sharpe and his wife Matilda Elizabeth purchased 3 roods and 39 perches of land in Ellerslie Crescent. The Sharpes were first listed at the address in 1895, suggesting that the house was built prior to the Title Deeds being transferred to them.
F. R. Sharpe was a successful Brisbane businessman and for many years was Managing Director of Thomas Heaslop and Co. Pty. Ltd, the successful grocery supplier who owned the Queensland wide grocery chain of The People’s Cash Store. In 1909 Sharpe was appointed a Justice of the Peace. ‘Laurel Bank’ was often the scene of social activity in Taringa in this period with Mrs Sharpe often holding events at the house, as evidenced in the social pages of the Brisbane Courier. After residing in the house for approximately twenty-four years, the Sharpes sold the property in 1919. An advertisement for the sale of the house was featured in the Brisbane Courier in January 1919 and reflected the upper-middle class professional target market and stated:
“Laurel Bank”. Situated in Ellerslie Crescent, on charming elevation, convenient to the Railway Station…The Residence is a most substantial one, containing about 5 good rooms and offices, with wide verandahs, with good motor garage, septic tank, and every convenience, also tennis court, bushhouse, good garden, ornamental and fruit trees”.
‘Laurel Bank’s’ new owner was Edward Ernest Quinlan. Continuing the area’s pattern of attracting affluent professionals, Quinlan was a successful Brisbane solicitor. Also playing a role in local politics, Quinlan became a candidate for the Lord Mayoralty in 1928 against William Jolly but was not successful. Quinlan at one time changed the name of the property to ‘St. Paul’s Court’ and once again the property became a focus of social activity in the area as Quinlan and his wife Jane Edith held tennis tournaments on the property. According to the Electoral Rolls Quinlan had reverted the house’s name back to the original ‘Laurel Bank’ by the 1930s. Quinlan continued to successfully practice law until his retirement in 1947 and remained in the Ellerslie Crescent home until his death in 1952 at the age of 83.
The property was then sold by auction in October 1953. The advertisement for this sale was featured in the Courier Mail on Saturday 17 October 1953, and described the property as “A substantially Built Chamferboard Dwelling, ideally suitable for family residence… it occupies an Outstanding Position, with double frontage allotment… Accommodation includes 5 bedrooms, large lounge and dining room arched, breakfast room off kitchen, pantry, maid’s room, library, front and side verandahs”. The property was sold to Adam and Elspeth Campbell. ‘Laurel Bank’ is situated on a prominent position on the crest of the hill on Ellerslie Crescent and the large timber home continues to reflect the affluence of its early residents.