Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Then and Now - A Walk in the Cairns CBD - Part Two

Cairns is home to many wonderful heritage buildings in its central business district. A stroll around the CBD provides a glimpse into the city’s rich and diverse history.

Former Public Offices
Former State Government Offices, corner Abbott & Shields Streets, Cairns, c. 1936.
Photo:  State Library of Queensland.
Former State Government Offices, now the Cairns Regional Gallery, 2014.
Photo:  Trisha Fielding.
Designed by architect RC. Nowland of the Government Architects’ Office, construction on this building began in 1934. Nowland also designed the Cairns Post building and the former City Council building, and similar design elements can be seen in all three buildings, most noticeably the classical columns. When it was officially opened in 1936, it housed the State Government Insurance Office, Government Tourist Bureau, Land Commission, Agricultural Bank, Forestry Office, Public Curator, District Foreman of Works, various Government Inspectors and visiting Tax Inspectors and parliamentarians. In 1995 the building opened its doors as the Cairns Regional Gallery.  The intersection this building is located on was the original location for the Cairns World War One Memorial, which has since been moved, and is now located on the Cairns Esplanade, opposite the RSL.

Dr Koch Memorial
Dr EA. Koch Memorial, in original location, corner of Spence and Abbott Streets, Cairns, 1903.
Photo:  State Library of Queensland.
Dr EA. Koch Memorial, Cairns, 2014.
Photo:  Trisha Fielding.

This memorial honours the work of a beloved Cairns doctor - Edward Albert Koch, who died in Cairns in June 1901, at the age of 57.  In the 1880s Dr Koch had been among the first to recognise the role of the mosquito in transmitting malaria, and his fever remedy and preventative measures played a significant role in controlling malaria in far North Queensland in the late 19th century and first half of the 20th century.

Designed and built by Townsville monumental masons Melrose & Fenwick, the top half of the memorial is made from Italian marble, and sits on a granite plinth. The memorial was paid for by public subscription and as was fashionable at the time, designed to be both functional, as well as aesthetically pleasing. The memorial was a functioning drinking fountain. 

The memorial had a lamp on top because it was originally located in the middle of an intersection.  It remained in its original position until the mid-1960s.  It was moved to its present location next to the Casino in the mid-1990s.

There are some design similarities with Dr Koch’s memorial and the WJ. Castling memorial, on The Strand, in Townsville, (also by Melrose & Fenwick) although the Castling memorial was erected five years after the Koch memorial, in 1908.  For more info, see Castling Memorial

From the Cairns Morning Post, 16 June, 1903: 
The Unveiling Ceremony His Excellency, Sir H. Chermside, on Saturday afternoon unveiled the handsome memorial to the late Dr. Koch, which has been erected by the citizens of Cairns at the intersection of Spence and Abbott Streets. The ceremony was an impressive one and fully 600 people were present, including members of the Oddfellows, Hibernians, and Druid Friendly Societies.
Former Cairns City Council Chambers

Former Cairns City Council Chambers, c. 1932.
Photo:  State Library of Queensland.

Cairns City Library, 2014.
Photo: Trisha Fielding.
The Cairns City Council Chambers were constructed in 1929-30, and replaced the timber council chambers. The building, designed by architects Hill and Taylor, reportedly cost £15,000 and was and built by Mr Alex McKenzie. The foundation stone was laid by Mayor Alderman WA Collinson on 20 November 1929. 

The Council Chambers originally comprised a T-shaped plan with a central columned vestibule to Abbott Street, flanked on either side by three bays of verandahs (now enclosed) with each section having a separate hipped roof.  In about 1961 the building was extended by a further three bays to either side with matching facade detailing. The rear verandahs were also enclosed, and the original timber floors were replaced with concrete slabs.

It is now home to the Cairns Library.

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