At the point where Nicholas Street rises steeply towards Denmark Hill is Mona Lodge, a structure that today would be called a duplex, constructed as an investment by Thomas Brew Lyons, an Ipswich watch and clock maker. An immigrant from the Isle of Man, Lyons purchased the land on which he constructed Mona Lodge for £75 in 1858.
Board and residence for ‘one or two gentlemen’ at Mona Lodge first was advertised in April 1863. One of the early occupants was Thomas Given, a fellow Ipswich watch and clock maker. Given had arrived in the colony of Queensland in 1855, establishing a business in Brisbane Street in the following year. During the 1860s, while living at Mona Lodge, he served as an Ipswich alderman.
The notion of gentlemen only occupants appears to have been relaxed when in 1865 Miss Mary Ann Sargent advertised collegiate classes for day pupils at Mona Lodge. The following year she advertised that she would take in six young ladies as boarders, offering ‘all the comforts of home, combined with the advantages of a sound English Education, French, Music, German, Drawing and Dancing’. Classes commenced at the beginning of 1867 but appear to have concluded after April 1867 when she married Thomas Given. The following year Thomas and Mary Ann Given moved to Toowoomba, leaving Given’s mother Martha to reside at Mona Lodge until her death late in 1872.
Mona Lodge again became a school for young girls when Mrs Mary Darnley Morrison leased the building from Thomas Lyons in 1873. Darnley-Morrison was a widow from Glasgow in Scotland who, with her daughter, arrived in Ipswich in the mid-1860s. At various locations, over the next decade, she had conducted classes in dancing and physical culture for young Ipswich ladies.
In 1885, Thomas Lyons subdivided the allotment, constructing at the corner of Court and Nicholas Streets the two-storey residence known today as The Chestnuts. The astute Mary Darnley Morrison purchased both buildings that same year, moving into The Chestnuts and renting out Mona Lodge until 1901. In that year, Mona Lodge was sold to Charolotte Grace, whose late husband William had been licensee of the Caledonian Hotel in the 1880s. Mona Lodge has had a number of owners since that time.
Unusually, Mona Lodge is situated hard on the alignment of Nicolas Street. An extension on the lower elevation has allowed for the introduction of a carport. An addition to the south-eastern corner also has been introduced. Over the past two years, considerable work has been done by its latest owners to present Mona Lodge in its current form. This includes landscaping and the addition of 13 windows rescued from the demolition of a nearby building to enhance the rear extension which had been added in the 1930s.
Plan your Visit
88 Nicholas Street Ipswich
10am - 4pm
Saturday 9th September