Original home of prestigious school features on 2020 Heritage Bank calendar

The original home of what is now prestigious Toowoomba school Fairholme College will feature on Heritage Bank’s much-loved calendar in 2020.

19 November 2019

The original home of what is now prestigious Toowoomba school Fairholme College will feature on Heritage Bank’s much-loved calendar in 2020.

The imposing home “Spreydon” has an important place in Toowoomba’s history. 

Spreydon and the adjacent home “Oak Lodge” were once part of one house, on the corner of Roma and Warra Streets, in the Toowoomba suburb of Newtown. 

Not only does the home have links to Toowoomba’s most celebrated architectural firm, it was the original location of what has evolved to become prestigious girls’ day and boarding school Fairholme College.

Spreydon’s design and history make it the perfect home for the annual Heritage calendar.

For the past 38 years, the Heritage calendar has shone a spotlight on an architecturally and historically important Queensland house. Each year, the calendar features a painting and brief history of the home to recognise and celebrate the finest examples of excellence in Queensland’s domestic architecture.

Thousands of the calendars are distributed across Queensland, with copies available to people at Heritage branches for a gold coin donation. Around $25,000 will be donated to various charities next year thanks to the monies raised by the calendar. 

Spreydon was designed by renowned Toowoomba architectural firm James Marks and Son. They dominated the region’s architectural profession from the 1870s through to the 1920s, adding Spreydon to a design portfolio that includes some of Toowoomba’s most prominent buildings.  The home was originally built in the 1890s for timber merchant Robert Walker Filshie, a Scottish immigrant who served on the local council and was a founder of the Toowoomba Caledonian Society. 

In 1908, the house took on a new role when sisters Elizabeth, Jessie and Margaret Thomson moved to Toowoomba from Melbourne and opened it as Spreydon Girls' College, a boarding and day school. However patronage from the Presbyterian Church in Brisbane saw the school soon outgrow its Warra Street premises. This led to the purchase of Fairholme, a larger property in East Toowoomba, to which the school was moved to from 1917.  

Around 1923, the home was converted into two detached houses - Spreydon, facing Rome Street; and Oak Lodge, fronting Warra Street. Spreydon remained in the Hogg family for almost 50 years until 1970 when it was purchased by Dr James Syme, who refurbished the house. 

The five-bedroom dwelling is asymmetrical in plan and form, with a wide gable to the front and back projecting from a high-pitched roof. It combines original 1890s features, such as vertically-jointed timber tongue-and-groove walls, with newer structures and rooms created when the original home was split in the 1920s, and more recent additions such as a large rear deck.

Current owners Sandra and Michael Hurn are proud to protect the home as a wonderful part of Toowoomba’s history.

Heritage Bank CEO Mr Peter Lock said the annual calendar continued to showcase excellence in Queensland’s domestic architecture.

“We’re delighted to feature Spreydon on our 2020 calendar,” Mr Lock said.

“This magnificent Toowoomba home has a unique history and its exquisite workmanship provides insight into architectural trends at the time.”

Aside from celebrating some of Queensland’s most iconic homes, the calendar also raises funds for deserving charities and community organisations. 

“Thanks to the continued popularity of the calendar we’re able to provide a much-needed boost to deserving charity and community organisations each year.

“It’s a much-loved tradition that supports Heritage’s passion for giving back to the community.”

Proceeds from this year’s calendar donations will be distributed to youth mental health charity Head Space, anti-bullying foundation Kodi’s Message, RSPCA, youth support organisation Emerge Toowoomba, and the Heritage Bank Charitable Foundation. 

Copies of the calendar are now available any of Heritage’s branches across southern Queensland and in Sydney. 

PHOTO: Sharing the painting of “Spreydon” that will feature on the 2020 Heritage Bank calendar are (from left) current owners Sandra and Michael Hurn, with Heritage Bank Chairman Kerry Betros and with Heritage Bank Deputy Chairman Dr Dennis Campbell.