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Remembering Victoria House at Woody Point

Posted: 3pm 10 Sep 2019

Reg Smith recalls Woody Point's "Ghost House" from his childhood and later, when he'd drive past it on his way to work.

He even remembers the morning the 80-year-old landmark, also known as the “Wedding Cake House” and the “Lighthouse”, burnt down in June 1968.

“One day, I went past and it was all ashes. It was a shame. The only thing still standing was the brick chimney,” he recalls.

While he never saw its interior, its unusual design and his interest in local history sparked a six-month building project on a much smaller scale. Reg has created a model of the home, actually called Victoria House, using particle board, toothpicks and cardboard. It’s his way of preserving a piece of local history now lost. “I like the old style of it. It’s not something you see — there’s nothing like it in Brisbane. It looks a bit crazy and the last bit looks like it was added on,” he says.

“I had a bit of trouble keeping it to scale, because there were no plans for it.”

Not deterred, Reg used old photographs to work out the scale — starting with the windows and doors. He would love to see the model shown in a museum or gallery, so younger generations can appreciate what was once a landmark in Redcliffe.

Moreton Bay Regional Councillor James Houghton remembers looking through the house when the historic society was running tours for 50 cents equivalent.

He says the rooms were tiny and plain, and the verandas made the house seem bigger than it actually was. “There should have been elegant chandeliers and wonderful staircases but there weren’t. I had a picture of it in my mind,” he says.

Cr Houghton remembers reaching the top floor and having views across to Sandgate.

Fountain Pikett reportedly built the four storey timber house at the corner of Clifford St and Victoria Ave, Woody Point, for Jacob Pearen in 1882.

There was a cabin perched on top, from which Pearen could look out to sea. He always had a light on which sailors would be looking for.

There are tales of drunken parties for sailors, but those who knew Jacob Pearen have disputed these.
He reportedly lived in the house until he died at the age of 78 in 1916. The estate was left to the Public Curator but the nephew of Jacob, Harry, who lived with him, remained at the house until his death in 1938.

The Public Curator then administered it until its sale to Mr. C Gattino in 1951.

When it came up for auction in 1967, it was owned by Mrs M Griffin-Beale. It was passed in and later bought by Mr and Mrs RC Dunstan who were keen on moving or demolishing the home and building new. These plans sparked public outrage and the Redcliffe Historical Society approached Redcliffe City Council to buy the property or help it buy it. The council even considered reinstatement of the land.

A story in the Redcliffe Herald (June 5, 1968), said the council decided against resuming the land at a special meeting. In just five days, the house would be destroyed by fire in the early hours of the morning.

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