Baroona Hall - Heritage and music digital trail
Opened in 1884, Baroona Hall was built for the United Brothers Lodge of the Order of Oddfellows—a working class friendly society committed to moral improvement and practical welfare, who provided low-cost medical insurance. The distinctive dove and handshake symbolism on the façade are reminders of the building’s original use.
Department of Environment and Science
Designed by prolific colonial-era architect Richard Gailey, the building originally housed a hall, two shopfronts and an upper-level lodge room, to conduct Oddfellow rituals. The hall opened with a concert and soon became a key community space for musical performances, plays and political meetings. Over time, the shops housed stationers, cooks, hairdressers, saddlers, drapers and bootmakers.
John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland
In 1909 the building was used as a clothing factory by manufacturers Isidore and Nora Josephson. Their employees, many of them young women, made both mass-produced and bespoke clothing, including military uniforms during World War I.
Acquired by the Paddington Workers Political Association in 1928, it became known as the Baroona Hall, a centre of local Labor Party activity for decades. The hall’s use as a social space for dances and other community events returned, while the shopfronts continued to be tenanted.
Australian Heritage Photographic Library, Department of the Environment and Energy
The 1970s saw the building used for a diverse range of social uses.The Brisbane Amateur Wrestling Club used the building as a gym and club headquarters. From 1976, pioneers of free legal aid, the Baroona Legal Service, (later Caxton Street Legal Centre) were housed in the upper level, where the Oddfellows once conducted their rituals.
John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Acc. 29127, Paul O’Brien Collection
In the late 1970s and early 80s, Baroona Hall became an important live music venue, hosting everything from bush dances to punk rock gigs by Brisbane bands the Leftovers, the Survivors, Zero and Razar.
The Go-Betweens’ first performance at the hall, occurred at a Numbers (later Riptides) gig in April 1978. A notorious show by the Sharks in November 1979 ended violently, with police arresting 12 audience members outside the hall.
During the 1990s the building was mainly used as a nightclub, under various different names.
As Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall (since 2014), the building once again became a live music venue, continuing its longstanding historic role as an important social space of Petrie Terrace.