When Woolloongabba was Wattle Scented

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The McWhirters' Building 1898 - 1931...A Pictorial History.


The former McWhirters' Emporium (the namesake of this blog) is one of the largest buildings of historical significance in Brisbane and is the grand dame of Brisbane's Fortitude Valley.  Ask a Brisbane resident when it was built they would probably guess around 1930. No matter what singular year you choose you would be technically incorrect. The McWhirters'  building as it stands today (despite its apartment conversion) is in fact a collection of 3 buildings built over a period of 30 years.


James McWhirters' original Brisbane outlet fronted Anne St opposite the Fortitude Valley G.P.O. (above) ; the  first  Brunswick St  store was established in 1898.

McWhirters' made a corner debut in 1912 but not the corner that you might think, the original corner store fronted Wickham and Warner St; the Warner street  frontage would be considered the rear of the building as we know it today.

In 1923  a wing was built that fronted Brunswick  St and spanned the block through to Warner St. resulting  in an L shaped complex . The frontage of this wing may have been where the first Brunswick Street business stood.

In 1931 the McWhirters' Building as we know it today was established on the corner of Brunswick and Wickham streets whereby an extension was added that incorporated the existing two wings.

Artists impression of the completed corner extension. The building in the bottom left is the Bank of NSW building, the turreted structure near centre of the illustration is a tram controller box.


  1. Fantastic stuff. I work in the valley and I see the McWhirters building every day. I am always keen to find out more about it.
    When you are digging around, could you also do a post about Waltons, please?

  2. Would loved to have seen it in it's hey day

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