A heritage home is reborn as Miss Midgley’s – James Street’s new set of luxury lodgings
Cairncross House, Villa Romagnoli, St Clair, The Pink Flats and Miss Midgley’s Educational Establishment – the building that sits at 135 James Street boasts a colourful past. Since its construction in the 1860s, it has served as an orphanage, the residence of a former Queensland premier, a private hospital and a school. Last month it debuted as Miss Midgley’s, a boutique accommodation destination revitalised and repurposed by a mother-daughter-duo – both graduates from Masters of Architecture at the University of Queensland. Miss Midgley’s blends history and heritage with colourful contemporary charm, offering a luxurious lodging experience that feels more homelike than any hotel in town.
Hotel rooms, by and large, are built with an underpinning of impersonality. They are spaces purposed for temporary habitation – intentionally designed dwellings that facilitate rest and relaxation, with aesthetics and amenities that inspire a sense of detached contentment for guests. For the most part, this is all we need from a hotel room, but Lisa White believes that the best hotels offer something more meaningful – a sense of time and place that lends a home-like comfort to the surrounds, as opposed to a sterile impermanence. Lisa, along with her daughter Izzie, are the brains behind Miss Midgley’s – a recently opened set of bespoke lodgings located a short stroll from James Street’s buzzing retail and dining strip. Set within one of Brisbane’s oldest heritage homes, Miss Midgley’s is an adaptive reuse project that has looked to preserve and showcase the two-storey building’s structural majesty and historical legacy, weaving architectural eccentricities, storied lineage and contemporary luxuries together into a chic accommodation destination unlike any currently seen in Brisbane. A sizeable revitalisation process saw the team demolish false ceilings and floors, and remove layers of rendering on the walls, in turn uncovering a host of details hidden within the structure’s original fabric. The result has shone a spotlight on the building’s heritage materiality, celebrating existing features like the preserved decorative plaster ceilings, concrete plinths, fanlight entry, original Petrie brickwork and mismatched floorboards.
Miss Midgley’s interior is comprised of five fully-equipped air-conditioned apartments, each drawing their name from the building’s endearing past as Miss Midgley’s Educational Establishment – a private school founded and overseen by ambidextrous artist and teacher Annie Midgley. The Refectory, Principal’s Office and Locker Room can be found on the first floor, while the Assembly Hall and Drawing Room are located upstairs. Though each dwelling features unifying textures and mod-cons such as Brazilian granite bench tops, brass-topped kitchen tables and brass taps, pink Italian porcelain tiles, red curtains, plush red-hued lounges, coffee machine, television with sound bar, artworks on the walls crafted by Izzie, and a 1940s school desk (another nod to Annie Midgley), every lodging boasts some unique element that differentiates it from its neighbours. For example, the Principal’s Office – the only apartment with one bedroom, as opposed to two – has access to a spacious rear deck, while the Locker Room’s kitchen has been built in a rediscovered portion of the building found below floorboards. All apartments have access to either a small deck or balcony, with the bottom three rooms being dog friendly. While the main living and socialising spaces have been injected with a colourful Art Deco-inspired liveliness, the bedrooms are much more tranquil, with a minimalist white interior and functional joinery and light fixtures creating a sense of zen when compared to the punchy pink-hued warmth of the rest of the apartment. In each room is a copy of a book – commissioned by Lisa and Izzie and written by local architectural historian Marianne Taylor – that gives guests a deep insight into the building’s past and its historical importance to the area.
Miss Midgley’s cuts a striking silhouette from the street, with a corten steel fence ringing the exterior (which will naturally weather to a deep-red tone), copper-coloured Kayne Mail mesh curtain verandah screening and native foliage-filled gardens ringed by repurposed brick serving to hero the structure’s ‘tuff’ stone exterior, which has also been further accentuated by touches of light-pink paint. Beyond the building’s motor-court-style carpark (which boasts one space per apartment) sits the pool, which is surrounded by its own tropical garden and features a small sun deck equipped with seats and fringed umbrellas. Lisa and Izzie envision Miss Midgley’s occupying a niche between upscale hotel accommodation and casual Airbnb rentals – the entire building and single apartments can be booked for short or lengthier stays.
More info on the Miss Midgley’s story, booking rates and available dates can be found via its website.
Images: Static Identity