Delve into the Fascinating History of Four Heritage-Listed Mansions in Clayfield

heritage-listed mansions on Adelaide St East
Photo Credit: Google Maps

Adelaide Street East, home to many historical properties owned by some of Brisbane’s wealthiest families, is one of Clayfield’s most desirable addresses. Here are four heritage-listed mansions on Adelaide St East that reflect Clayfield’s storied past.

Oliver Jonker

138 Adelaide St East: Casa Mara 

Casa Mara was constructed in 1930 for Mrs Martha Greenfield, who married Brisbane doctor Vivian Hector Leigh-Barlow. She purchased the land on Adelaide St East in 1923. As with many homes in the Clayfield, Ascot, and Hamilton area, Casa Mara was a beautiful structure often featured in society pages, home magazines and architectural journals. 

This house was designed as a Spanish Mission bungalow, with a stucco finish and a Spanish tiled roof. Outside, Casa Mara’s gardens had plenty of succulents and Cypress pines. Inside, the house featured an ornate dome ceiling, tessellated porch, twisted columns, and unique details “planned and finished in the Spanish period,” per its auction advertisement when it was put up for sale in 1933. 

Heritage-listed Casa Mara in 2020
Photo Credit: Google Maps

Casa Mara attracted large crowds and packs of sightseers when it went on the auction but the sale was not completed until the death of Mr Leigh-Barlow in 1936. Mr and Mrs Stanley Curnow acquired the property until it was sold to Mr Harold Paton in 1941, and then again in the 1950s to its current owners.

Casa Mara first auction
Photo Credit: National Library of Queensland
Casa Mara first auction
Photo Credit: National Library of Queensland

Local Resources

140 Adelaide St East: Heritage-listed Tresco 

Evelyn Mary Bernays bought the land on 140 Adelaide St East in 1898 after her marriage to architect and engineer Charles Edwin Bernays. Mr Bernays may have likely designed the house that completed construction in 1900. 

As an engineer, Mr Bernays investigated the cause of the 1887 floods and proposed a canal system and flood prevention scheme with the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce.  

Death notice Charles Edwin Bernays Clayfield
Photo Credit: National Library of Australia

Tresco was then originally named Moorlane until Caroline Woodley acquired the property in 1911. Three years later, Ms Woodle sold the property to Frank and Louisa Coxon, who then sold the house to Albert P Greenfield, an optician. It is believed that the Greenfields named the property Tresco. Their family remains the homeowner, passing Tresco from one generation to the next.

Albert P Greenfield  Clayfield
Dr Albert P Greenfield 
Photo Credit: State Library of Queensland

Tresco is a Federation-era home that was entered into Brisbane’s heritage listing for its links to Mr Bernays and Mr Greenfield, two very important people in Clayfield. The property has not been on the market since 1998 when it sold for $1.45 million.

Tresco Adelaide St East current
Photo Credit: BCC

143 Adelaide St East: Heritage-listed Mardan 

John Spence Irvine had Mardan constructed from 1908, upon his marriage to Clara. He was a religious Baptist who managed the Foy and Gibson drapery firm in Fortitude Valley. In 1912, James Peter Peterson bought Mardan from the Irvines when he retired from Longreach Shire Council to Brisbane. He was also known as one of the best-known pastoralists in Queensland. 

Mr Peterson was married to Sarah Fagg, a well-known philanthropist who received an MBE from the British monarch for her philanthropy.

The couple had a son named Roy. Following Mr Peterson’s death in 1936, Sarah and then Roy stayed at Mardan until it was sold in 1953 to Carl Wallace Bishop. 

Mardan, another Federation-era home, is featured with wide verandahs with some ornate timberwork, a steeply pitched corrugated iron roof, and a landscaped garden with palm trees. It has been heritage-listed for its links to the Petersons and as an example of a subdivision of larger urban allotments within Clayfield.

In October 2021, Mardan was sold for $4.4 million. It was worth $775,000 when its previous owners bought the property in 1997.

heritage-listed mansions in Clayfield
Photo Credit: BCC

165 Adelaide St East: Heritage-listed Rangemoor 

The grand timber home was designed by prominent Queensland architect, Robin S. Dods, for former soldier turned merchant John W.H. Grout and his wife Winnifred. 

Rangemoor encapsulated the signature characteristics of Mr Dods’ designs such as the dominant roof form, side entrance porch, generous verandahs, and restrained timber detailing. He embellished the house with Spanish and Moorish features as a nod to Mr Grout’s role as the Vice-Consul for Spain.

Robert Smith Dods aka Robin Dods
Robert Smith Dods aka Robin Dods
Photo Credit: State Library of Queensland

After Mr Grout’s death in 1921, Dr Charles August Thelander and his wife Helene bought Rangemoor. Dr Thelander was a prominent obstetrician and paediatrician.

He was also a controversial figure in Brisbane as the Royal Commission Chairman who made a negative assessment of Sister Elizabeth Kenny’s treatment of poliomyelitis. Sister Elizabeth was another popular figure in Brisbane, whose approach to polio was actually adopted worldwide.

Charles August Thelander  Clayfield
Dr Charles August Thelander  
Photo Credit: State Library of Queensland

The Thelanders owned Rangemoor for at least three decades after the doctor’s death in 1959. The family did some renovations and upgrades to the house in all those years but many of Mr Dods’ original designs remained. The acres of land were also subdivided and sold whilst the Thelanders retained the old home.

In 1988, the Thelanders sold Rangemoor for $650,000. It was last on the market in 2010 and was then valued at $5.8 million.