Queenslander houses hold much fascination for historians, for home owners, for renovators and for those interested in architecture generally. Establishing when a Queenslander house was built is a challenging undertaking, using many clues such as roof or gable style, construction material, verandah styles, and windows and window hoods.
Early Queensland houses were built with French doors opening onto shaded verandahs. However, window hoods or sun hoods became a feature of later Queensland timber houses and were added above the windows on sides not protected by verandahs. Window hood styles varied from functional to highly decorative and can be one item used to determine the age of a house. Although first used in the 1880’s, the window hood gained prominence with the houses of the 1920’s.
Window hood styles can be categorized into the following types – Ogee, concave, convex, skillion, functional and cantilevered.
Ogee tin window hoods were S shaped – that is, firstly concave and then convex. They were popular in the 1880’s and 1890’s and matched ogee verandah roofs. Generally, they had decorative elements at the side and fluted edges along the bottom. Concave hoods were also used in this era. Sometimes, the hood featured federation-style fretwork around the turn of the century. Others had perforated, decorative metal side fins.
The Bullnose tin sunhood was also popular and lasted through to the First World War, with many examples being full rounded convex tin covers, in keeping with the heavily rounded bull nose verandah roofs.
By the 1920’s, a more functional design appeared – with a straight skillion tin and timber hood, some decorated with timber battens at the side. Flat window hoods emerged in the late 1930’s. These were cantilevered above the window, with no wooden or metal supports, and could be used over bay windows, which became popular again in the 1930’s.
Queensland houses were known for their ventilation, light and air plus plentiful windows and window hoods that allowed both in a hot climate. Advertisements in the newspapers of the day extolled their virtue in making a difference to the temperature of a building.
Underneath the window hoods, windows moved from sash window styles (sliding upwards and downwards) to casement windows in the 1920’s. Windows were generally centred in the middle of the room until the 1930’s when corner windows arrived. In earlier houses, built in the 1880’s and 1890’s, windows were often in the form of French doors opening onto verandahs.
However, windows are a feature of the Queenslander home that was easily changed, and later, replaced with metal sliding windows to enclose verandahs, particularly from the 1950’s onwards. Glass louvres were also used from the late 1930’s to catch the breeze and replaced some of the glass casement windows of earlier eras.
The State Library of Queensland has many books on dating, restoring and caring for the Queensland house, illustrating architectural features such as window hoods. Examples are:
- Restoring the Queensland house / Laurence M. Jones – Currently on display in the John Oxley Reading Room, Level 4
- Brisbane house styles 1880 to 1940 : a guide to the affordable house / Judy Gale Rechner – Currently on display in the John Oxley Reading Room, Level 4
- Queenslanders : their historic timbered homes / by Rod Fisher
- Dating your house : a guide to establishing the date of construction of your own home / by Donald Watson
Check the State Library One Search catalogue for more titles.
Photographs of Queensland houses are also held in the John Oxley Library and many have been digitised for easy downloading via the One Search catalogue.
Try searching the Corley Explorer to see photographs of many Brisbane and regional Queensland houses.
Visit level 2 Exhibition Home: a Suburban obsession at State Library to enjoy the photographs of Frank and Eunice Corley.
Interested in learning about how to find the history of your house? Why not attend our “Discover your house history” talk on 16 February 2019, 10-11:30am. Tickets are on sale on 2 February 2019.
Research Librarian, Visitor & Information Services
Exhibition Home: a suburban obsession – http://home.slq.qld.gov.au/
Corley explorer – https://explorer.corley.slq.qld.gov.au/
6169 Frank and Eunice Corley House Photographs ca. 1970 – http://onesearch.slq.qld.gov.au/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=slq_alma21148828830002061&context=L&vid=SLQ&search_scope=SLQ&tab=slq&lang=en_US
One Search – http://onesearch.slq.qld.gov.au