Is this your house The Corley Photographic Collection of Queensland Homes Needs Your Help


2813 Ipswich Road in Darra is no longer officially an address – just a patch of grass next to the busy Ipswich Motorway in southwest Brisbane.

But dive into the State Library of Queensland (SLQ) Corley Explorer Website and you will discover that in the 1960s it was the site of a cherished family home, built after work and on weekends by English immigrant George Brown for his wife Margaret and their daughters.

Mr. Brown made the bricks, built the walls, floors, and did all of the carpentry, electrical and plumbing work.

English immigrant George Brown built his own home in Darra for his wife and daughters.(Provided: Corley Explorer website, photographer: Frank Corley)

This is just one of the stories sparked off by a single black and white photo, taken by the late photographic duo Frank and Eunice Corley over 50 years ago.

Over 60,000 of their images of Queensland homes are featured online, with the originals kept in a temperature-controlled storage space at the State Library.

English immigrant George Brown built his home in Darra in southwest Brisbane in the 1960s.
Mr. Brown made the bricks, built the walls, floors, and did all of the carpentry, electrical and plumbing work.(Provided: State Library of Queensland)

But SLQ program manager Chenoa Pettrup said 10,000 properties have yet to be identified and that she is encouraging members of the public to add places and their memorabilia to the collection.

A couple of entrepreneurs

She describes the Corleys as an entrepreneurial couple who ran a number of businesses, including the Pan American Home Photographic Company.

“Frank would drive the streets in his Cadillac and basically drive and hang out the window and take a picture of every house on the street.

Frank Corley smiles while holding his camera
Frank Corley with his camera, taken in 1994 by Doug Spowart.(Provided: State Library of Queensland)

“His wife Eunice would park a mobile development unit [in a Bedford delivery van] nearby and she was developing the photographs, then they would have a salesperson try to resell the photos to the owners.

Chenoa Pettrup, Program Manager, State Library of Queensland, with some of the photos of Brisbane housing from the Corley Collection.
Chenoa Pettrup says the SLQ is also researching stories behind the houses.(ABC News: Sally Eeles)

The Corleys charged 50 cents for a print and 99 cents for a calendar or greeting card and it is estimated that they took around 250,000 photos of houses from Bundaberg to Beenleigh in South Queensland.

The SLQ has all the images the couple had not sold.

The images are a snapshot in time, featuring old-style cabins with wire mesh fencing and more modern two-level homes with cinderblock walls.

“They give us a sense of when and where they were taken and I think continuing to add photos gives us a better insight into how this place has changed over time,” Ms. Pettrup said.

Chenoa Pettrup, Program Manager at the State Library of Queensland, working in the temperature-controlled storage area in Brisbane.
Chenoa Pettrup working in the air-conditioned storage area of ​​the SLQ.(ABC News: Sally Eeles )

“Pretty good story”

Michael Stone found a 1970s image of his Greenslopes home in the Online Collection and managed to connect with the descendants of the Norwegian family who built it in 1915.

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“We figured it had a pretty good story that we wanted to capture when we did our renovation,” Mr. Stone said.

“The original house is pretty much intact – we’ve done a lot of construction around it – some of the stamped metal cornices and ceilings are certainly all in place.

The Hein family in 1918 inside their dining room at their Queenslander home on Sackville Street in Greenslopes on the south side of Brisbane.
Hein family in the 1918 dining room of their Queenslander home on Sackville Street in Greenslopes.(Provided: Michael Stone )

“The original view of Google Street View”

The photographs of the Corleys were donated to SLQ in 1995, prior to Mr Corley’s death in October of the same year.

His wife Eunice had passed away some time before.

Doug Spowart and his partner Victoria Cooper made initial contact with the SLQ after Mr Corley invited them to his Annerley house and showed them boxes of fingerprints.

“I considered this to be history – an incredible resource,” said Dr. Spowart.

The couple befriended Mr Corley in the early 1990s, while Dr Spowart was working at a photo gallery in south Brisbane.

Dr Spowart was even able to peek inside the Bedford van where Ms Corley had processed the film.

“It was a tight squeeze – I have enormous respect for what Eunice did,” said Dr Spowart.

As for Frank Corley, Dr Spowart and Dr Cooper agreed that he was one of a kind.

“He had this pretty glow in his eyes – everything had a story,” Dr. Cooper said.

Dr Spowart said Frank Corley also took photos in the Northern Territory and South Australia.

“I called him the man who photographed every house in Australia – the original Google Street View,” Dr Spowart said.


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