Hof’s Building

Stanton House

Hof’s Building (Stanton House) was built on land originally purchased by John Frederick Hof in 1867. Hof initially built two timber shops on the site, but later in 1884-1885 he constructed the permanent building at 197-203 Flinders Street that exists today. After a fire damaged buildings in Finders Street East, new building regulations were introduced which required all structures to be of stone, masonry or metal. The double-storey, rendered-brick building backs onto Melton Hill and was constructed in a classic asymmetrical style with a sheet metal roof and plain parapet at the front, and was referred to as the ‘Hof’s Building’.

The Anglican Diocesan Synod of North Queensland used the property as the Diocesan Registry and in 1933 purchased the property, and named the building ‘Stanton House’ in honour of George Henry Stanton who was the first Bishop of North Queensland in 1878. They added a third storey in 1942 which closely mirroring the second level. For further information, see the Queensland Heritage Register entry for ‘Stanton House’ 


Who was Hof?

“This particular allotment was offered in the first land sale in 1867, which was three years after Townsville was established and the port declared” Kim Owens
John Frederick Hof (1838-1912) arrived from Germany in 1856 and worked on a number of Victorian goldfields before relocating to the Cape River diggings in North Queensland in 1861. He became involved in a number of different ventures and befriended Thankful Percy Willmett, who worked as the Cape River postmaster before settling in Townsville in 1870. When land was released in Townsville in 1867, Hof purchased the block on Flinders Street.
He later married Jane Cramp (1862-1918) in March 1884 and they had eight children. Hof died in a Goodna hospital near Brisbane on 1 July 1912.
John Frederick Hof also established the Brunswick Brick and Tile works at West End in 1884 and had his trade mark ‘J.F.HOF’ pressed into the surface of each brick. These bricks were used in the construction of the ‘Hof’s Building’ at Flinders Street.

Who occupied the Stanton House building?

Since the building opened in 1885, it has accommodated many different businesses and lessors. Some of these businesses listed below have been informed by recent research as well as Kimberley Owens' (2001) Beyond the bricks and under the asphalt : the cultural landscapes of Townsville's CBD honours thesis.
1885 - Otto Geburek, Michael Sandstein and Philip Harris.
1885 - Beale & Co., Ltd (est. Sydney 1884), piano and sewing machine importers with a musical instrument showroom occupying the largest area of the premises, that held a special event with demonstrations of piano playing in late May to mark their opening.
1885 - North Queensland Club, established on 24th June, 1885, also known as the Gordon Club which changed its name to the North Queensland Club in 1891. In March 1898 the club moved to Denham Street.
1885 to 1896 – Possibly Horn & Petersen, manufacturing jewellers and watchmakers (est. Brickfield Hill Sydney 1870) before they built their own premises in 1896.
1887 to 1899 - Lionel Fairley Auditor and Accountant.
1904 – Anglican Diocesan Synod of North Queensland occupied premises as Mortgagees in Possession.
1906 to 1934 - New Zealand Insurance Company.
1915 to 1925 – A.P. Greenfield and. Co., was one of Queensland’s pioneer optometrists established in Brisbane in 1897 and opened in Townsville after first visiting in 1899. Greenfield Optical continues today at Pimlico premises.
1920 – Possibly occupied by Theosophical Society; Church of England Book Depot; Townsville Benefit Building & Investment Permanent Mutual Society.
1920 to 1960s - Anglican Diocesan Synod of North Queensland used the property as the Diocesan Registry.
1929 to 1944 - Mains Roads Commission, also occupying space on third floor extension added in 1942.
1933 – Building purchased by Anglican Diocesan Synod of North Queensland.
1940s – Possibly occupied by Chartres Pty Ltd., Remington typewriter supplies (est.1870 Melbourne); CE Smith & Co Chartered Accountant (est.c.1931); National Cash Register Company (NCR) Pty Ltd manufacturers (est.1884 in Ohio).
1978 - Anglican Diocesan Synod of North Queensland sold building.
1980s – Bible Shop; Townsville Presents gift shop; MM Adler & Co Typewriter and Office Machinery sales, hire and photocopying services.



“Rubbish pits are good because they tend to reveal how people lived” Dr Nigel Chang

James Cook University staff and students from the Archaeology department conducted a three-day dig at a site behind Stanton House on Flinders Street East that backed onto Melton Hill.

stanton-house-pit-bricks-2 stanton-house-pit-bricks

The area was once the site of a World War 2 air raid shelter, and in 2009 a development plan required some demolition and excavation. This provided an opportunity to examine a stone wall possibly built around the 1880s to early 1900s and the existence of rubbish pits that revealed a glimpse into Townsville’s heritage and different time periods.

Images of Stanton House shown on this page have been sourced from: Queensland Heritage Register and RP Data