THE Barracks is now synonymous with dining, boutique shopping and cinemas, but when it was built as a police barracks in 1939 it was hailed the most modern in Australia.
It housed police recruits and single constables on the inner city beat (the rear of the site drops down to Roma Street).
Before the police came the criminals. In 1860, the site was Brisbane’s second proper jail and the address was Green Hills not Petrie Terrace.
The jail, which had a two-storey block of cells, closed in 1883 and two years later, the police moved in and used it as a depot. There were also stables first for horses and later for cars.
The oldest male prisoner was a 96-year-old vagrant, while a 76-year-old woman was jailed for stealing clothes. The youngest were a 10-year-old boy who stole money and an 11-year-old girl who stole a chook.
The last of the old jail buildings were demolished around 1939. Sandstone foundations recovered during excavation have been preserved.
The new brick building had a kitchen, dining room, offices and armoury on the ground floor with bedrooms and recreation rooms on the two floors above. Military personnel also used the barracks during World War II.
In 1955, it was converted to offices for senior police but when their new HQ opened at North Quay in 1962, the barracks was returned to housing recruits until 1973, when the new police academy opened at Oxley.
Various branches of the police used the building until 1987 when the State Government sold the site.
The old stables became the Underground nightclub and the rest of the site was abandoned and fell into disrepair.
Finally, in 2007, plans were approved for The Barracks and the restored site opened in 2008.
It’s now a trendy little spot and the ground floor of the old building has been beautifully restored as a French restaurant.