Discover the history on our streets at Cobb+Co Museum

30 April 2015

Toowoomba residents looking for a taste of Europe should grab a coffee and take a stroll down Russell Street, according to local architect, Stephanie Keays.

“Russell Street provides some perfect examples of European architecture,” said Stephanie. “There is a little bit of Greece and a bit of Rome, if you know where to look”

A driving force behind Toowoomba’s Open House initiative, Stephanie is looking forward to sharing her knowledge and passion for architecture and history, as part of the Cobb+Co Museum Curator Conversation series of talks, on Wednesday 6 May, 2pm.

“I have given it an ambitious theme of the history of European architecture and how it’s expressed on the streets of Toowoomba,” said Stephanie.

“So I talk about the tradition of the grand tour through Europe and how, during the 19th century, local architects travelled to Europe and brought back ideas and, in a lot of cases, unashamedly borrowed from their European masters.”

Stephanie will also give a nod to prominent pioneer architects in the region.

“I really love the architecture of the Marks family of architects.  James Marks (1834-1915), designed St Stephen’s Church and St Patrick's Catholic Cathedral,” said Stephanie. “His work is just so beautiful.

“His son Harry (1870-1939) was really clever and inventive and had worldwide patents on things, including his Austral windows. He was also innovative in how he adapted to the Queensland climate.”

Stephanie said that Toowoomba’s stable economy has provided a “smattering” of lovely examples of architecture from lots of different eras.

“I just visited Bendigo in Victoria, which has lots of beautiful buildings from the same era, because everything was built during the gold rush.

“But Toowoomba has lovely examples of Victorian and Art Deco architecture, as well as some very special 1950’s and 1960’s buildings that are under appreciated.”

But it is the stories, as well as the buildings, that are appealing to Stephanie, who was born in Melbourne.

“The nice thing about Toowoomba and the Open House are the personal stories and how our local buildings become a framework for these personal stories.

“Toowoomba people have this wonderful oral history and I think that knowledge and those connections are amazing,” said Stephanie.

“For example, when I bought my own house, a fellow architect recognised the address and told me the story of their aunt who used to live there. That is the wonderful thing about a place like Toowoomba – all those connections and personal stories.”

Curator Conversation: World Architecture On Our Streets with architect Stephanie Keays is on Wednesday 6 May at 2pm. For more information, contact Cobb+Co Museum on 4659 4900 or visit www.cobbandco.qm.qld.gov.au.

Toowoomba Open House is a free-of-charge event that invites visitors to opens the doors of public and private buildings and places of architectural, historical and/or environmental significance in October each year. www.toowoombaopenhouse.com.au

Cobb+Co Museum is part of the Queensland Museum Network. Located in Lindsay Street, Toowoomba, the Museum is open daily from 10am – 4pm.

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For further information call us on +61 (0) 7 4659 4900 or contact us using our online form.