Established by Rees Rutland Jones in 1864, Rees R & Sydney Jones Solicitors is the oldest practicing law firm in Queensland. Now located at 55 Denham Street in Rockhampton, the firm is still synonymous with its old stomping grounds of 186 Quay Street, which is still affectionately called the “Rees Jones Building”.
The beautiful and iconic Rees Jones Building was erected in 1880 and was previously home to the Queensland National Bank.
In 1975 Rees R & Sydney Jones purchased the Rees Jones Building for $150,000. Renovations were conducted by the firm over a 12 month period at a cost of $61,000 by Callianotis Constructions Pty Ltd.
However, despite the Rockhampton Regional Council’s lack of objection to the renovations – subject to no alterations being made to the exterior – the Rockhampton branch of the National Trust of Queensland attempted to intervene without success as they grew anxious that the renovations were not going to be carried out with the attention and care the building deserved.
Thankfully, these fears were never realised.
Previously located three doors down at 176 Quay Street – for the first time in 90 years Rees R & Sydney Jones Solicitors moved office and took residence of 186 Quay Street in 1976.
In the 1980’s the firm saw a surge of new technology and in 1989 it was decided that further internal renovations were required to help Rees Jones’s step into the modern era of professional practice. The renovations in 1989 were conducted at a cost of approximately $250,000.
Working closely with Partner, Gerard Houlihan the works were carried out by T.F. Woolam and Son, under plans prepared by Architect, Jack Clarke of Melbourne in association with Andrews & Girlie Architects of Rockhampton. This collaboration helped Rees Jones become one of the most technologically advanced firms of that time.
Unfortunately with the firm’s continued growth and the rapid advancement of technology in the early 2000’s, 186 Quay Street, despite its grandeur, was no longer practical and the decision was made to move the staff of Rees Jones once again – this time to 55 Denham Street.
The beauty of the old Rees Jones Building can thankfully still be enjoyed. Despite being closed for some years to once again undergo internal renovation, the doors of 186 Quay Street are now open, this time as Riverston Tea Rooms, a café servicing the Rockhampton CBD and House of Treasures.
Over the last two centuries, 186 Quay Street has seen many changes, both inside its own walls and across the long streets of Rockhampton. However, its untouched façade remains one of the most striking in Central Queensland.