During the late 1880s and early 1900s, New Farm, and especially the area around Moray Street, was the place to be—a sort of semi-rural retreat for politicians, lawyers, wealthy merchants, and property speculators.
Of the many fine residences that once graced leafy Moray Street in those days, only a handful have survived including the recently restored Inglenook (GFS House) on the corner of Moray and Sydney Streets.
Diagonally across from Inglenook was Vera,best-known as Dr Thomas Lucas’s ‘Vera Papaw Hospital’, which appears as the logo on the tube or jar of Lucas Papaw ointment.
Vera was designed by a young architect (who had already helped design the grand Moana at 86-88 Moray Street) for a wealthy civil servant who had started life in Australia as a German immigrant and had amassed considerable wealth through gold mining and land speculation.
Vera’s near neighbours were Sir Samuel Griffith’s Merthyr and the Hon. John S Turner’s Kinellan , both of which were demolished years ago.
Verawas luckier, mainly because it was purchased in the 1920s by the Salvation Army and was run as an Eventide home until the late 1970s. The Salvos added a range of structures—dormitories, laundries, etc. —but eventually the property proved too expensive and impractical to maintain, so it was sold off.
That was by no means the end of Vera , as archaeologist and historian Dr Greg Wightman explains in his recently-completed study of the house, ‘The Lives and Times of Vera , a Colonial Home in New Farm’. The house was long thought to have disappeared entirely, but the truth is rather more interesting.
This project has been a pleasant departure for someone whose research has focused on life thousands of years in the past. Dr Wightman, who has lived in the New Farm area for many years, is also a keen local historian, and has studied the urban geography of the part of New Farm south of Brunswick Street. His monograph makes fascinating reading for anyone interested in New Farm’s history, and may be viewed at the NFDHS office.