Heritage listed home Smithfield Homestead was designed by architectural firm James Marks & Son in 1895 for James Taylor, a wealthy landowner on the Darling Downs who was Toowoomba Mayor in 1890 and a Member of Parliament between 1860 and 1893. A driving force behind Toowoomba’s development, Taylor invested heavily in land throughout the area, donating it to various groups and churches. Settled on a 300-acre plot, Smithfield was the third house built for Taylor. He contracted Marks, one of the most influential early architects in Toowoomba. Marks’ other works include the beautiful St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, St Matthew’s Anglican Church in Drayton, the Bandstand in Toowoomba Botanical Gardens, Ascot House and Vacy Hall.

Smithfield is a single-storey residence of stone construction. Though the bluestone, which comprises the foundation and the external walls, was sourced locally, the sandstone was imported from England.

The homestead is adorned with a corrugated iron roof structure, which boasts four prominent, decorated, sandstone chimneys. The wide hallway at the front runs the length of the original house and spreads off to symmetrical rooms. Two large bay windows project onto the front verandah, capturing sweeping views of the property, and a long carriageway is flanked by a stand of trees.

Despite the attention to detail and care in its construction, Taylor never lived at the property. Smithfield’s first occupant was Australian nobleman and German industrialist Oscar Flemmich in 1907, who built the extensive stables on the property. After Flemmich left during World War I, Charleville grazier Darcy Winton purchased part of the estate in 1908, and during World War II, the house was repurposed as a part of Glennie Memorial School until 1962.

Leased to the Minter family from then until 1966, the house fell into a dark period, suffering deterioration and vandal attacks.

Eager to restore the house to its former glory and give it a fresh start, Barwick and Ceisolka purchased it in 1974 with the intent of turning it into a restaurant. Despite protests by local residents, the restaurant opened in 1975 and ran until the early 1990s, becoming one of the city’s most popular eateries and hosting functions including weddings and receptions. Taken over by Kelvin and Thelma Roche, this chapter in the homestead’s history resulted in the construction of an addition to the rear of the house, including a spacious dining and entertainment area, kitchen, bathrooms and laundry.

Marks and his son Harry left a significant, visible legacy in the buildings of Toowoomba, of which Smithfield House is an important example. In 1992, Smithfield Homestead was listed on the Queensland Heritage Register, marking it a defining component of Toowoomba’s landscape and history. The current owners, Kathleen and Wesley Daniels use it for family weddings, church fundraisers and high teas. Smithfield Homestead is currently for sale with Caitlin Wright of Raine & Horne Toowoomba. To schedule an inspection, please call 04 5050 6936.

 

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