Brisbane Open House
Corner Graham and Vulture Streets
Saturday : 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM
General access and guided tours

In 1891, work began on a two storey red brick building located on the corner of Vulture and Graham Streets. The building was designed by architects John Hall and Son and the contract to build was signed on 31st December 1890 by Mayor Arthur Morry and builder Abraham James for £6,999. After the work had been in progress for a few months, the firm of Mr James went bankrupt and abandoned the contract. The Architects were instructed to complete the building to the ceiling joists and tenders were invited to complete the work. On 5 January 1892 the top stone of the tower was set in place by the Mayor, Alderman Heaslop. The final cost was £11,000. The official opening took place on 1 July 1892 and the building was described by the Brisbane Courier as ‘one of the most ornate and elegant buildings in the city’. It was not until 1904 that the clock was installed in the tower by Alfred George Jackson of the Synchronome Company. The clock cost £100 and was bought by the South Brisbane Council on terms with a deposit of £11/15/0.

The South Brisbane City Council occupied this building from 1892 until 1925 when the Council disbanded upon the establishment of the Greater Brisbane Area. The building then led a mixed life being used as a Council Works Depot until it was occupied by the American Armed Services during WWII. During this time the basement of the building was used as a gaol and what had been the Mayor’s office was used as a court room. To facilitate ease of access between the SBMC and Somerville House, the stained glass window was removed from the upper floor above the staircase and a ramp was constructed. The window was never recovered and a replica window was installed in 1984. After the war, the building was converted into flats for the families of Council Engineers recruited from England. After extensive refurbishment in 1957, it was used for the Queensland Conservatorium of Music. Major restoration work was again carried out in 1977 and from late 1979, the building was used by the South Brisbane College of Technical and Further Education as the centre for its Extension Program. On 15 June 1999 a contract was signed for purchase by Somerville House.

Tour Information

Frequency of Guided Tours: Every 30 minutes

Tour Tips

Register at the building on arrival, Guided tours will leave outside Under The Clock.

Additional Activities

Cafe/restaurant, Under the Clock cafe is open from 7.30am until 11.30am.

Wheelchair access



Recent Architectural or Engineering Awards: The building was listed with the National Trust in 1984 and with the Australian Heritage commission in 1989.

John Hall and Son