Updated: Nov 17
The Comino's building (Acropolis) is a three storey, heritage listed, brick building on Redcliffe Parade, built by Greek businessman Arthur Comino between 1942 and 1944 to take advantage of Redcliffe's popularity as a rest and recreation area for American and Australian military personnel during World War II.
Until the late 1930s Redcliffe functioned as a holiday destination rather than as a residential suburb. In 1921, when the Town of Redcliffe was declared, its permanent population was only 1,631, and it contained 432 private dwellings, six Hotels, and 28 boarding houses. However, improved road access eventually changed this situation. ANZAC Avenue, running from Petrie to Redcliffe, was opened in December 1925, and in October 1935 the opening of the Hornibrook Highway Toll Bridge ended Redcliffe's isolation from Brisbane, and led to a burst of residential development. Many of the 1880s residential allotments were finally sold after the bridge was completed. Between 1933 and 1940 Redcliffe was one of fastest growing local authorities in Australia, with the number of dwellings increasing from 536 to 1865. Redcliffe's population in 1933 was 2,008, and this had risen to 6,000 by 1940.
Although Redcliffe had become a residential suburb, it continued to act as a holiday destination - at least until the spread of motor vehicle ownership, and the appeal of surf beaches on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, lured away Brisbane holidaymakers during the 1950s. Public bathing pavilions were opened at Suttons Beach, Margate, Woody Point and Redcliffe jetty in 1937, and a koala sanctuary and zoo was established next to the Country Women's Association hall that same year. The Redcliffe Rollerdrome (a skating rink) was established in 1938, and Frost's private aviary and zoo opened in Joseph Street around 1939.
One businessman who saw potential in Redcliffe during the pre-World War II period was Athanasi (Arthur) Stavrou Comino, born on the Greek island of Kythera in 1880. His brother John S. Comino moved to Australia in 1901, and worked in Sydney and Lismore in New South Wales before moving to Queensland and buying a cafe in Bundaberg. Around 1903 John was joined by three of his brothers, including Arthur Comino. Two more brothers arrived in 1908, but in 1912 Arthur and Peter, who were still listed as Greek Army reservists, left to fight in the First Balkan War.
In 1919 Arthur married Marigoula (Mary) Comino on Kythera, and they moved back to Australia in 1921. Mary and Arthur ran the Central Cafe in Laidley for 25 years and raised their four children there. When visiting friends at Redcliffe in 1922 Arthur fell in love with the place and began looking for an investment opportunity. In September 1938 he purchased 1 rood 24 perches (1,600 m2) of land on the site of the present Comino's Arcade, which at that time included the Moreton Vista boarding house.
The Pier Theatre was located immediately to the south. Arthur planned to move the boarding house back from the street, and then build some shops with living quarters for the family above. However, on 26th June 1941, the Moreton Vista boarding house, the adjacent one-room Embassy fish shop, and two other shops were destroyed by an early morning fire.
The Comino family: left to right, Queenie, Mary Comino, Arthur Coming, Stella, Stephen and Betty.
While constructing the new building, Arthur Comino would leave their Laidley cafe on Mondays with their weeks takings, drive to Redcliffe where he paid the workers in cash and stayed on the job until Friday, when he would return to Laidley to repeat the exercise every week. he never borrowed money for its construction.
Architects G Meek and Shaw were commissioned to plan the arcade. A conceptual drawing shows a two storey building with porthole windows on the sides and part of the first floor, glass fronted shops on the ground floor, a glass arcade cupola, and a tower in the form of a "flying bridge" on top of the second storey. The building was called "Lockyer Private Hotel" in the drawing, the name probably relating to Comino's cafe at Laidley in the Lockyer Valley. Commenting on the design, the Redcliffe Herald noted that the bridge and port holes imparted a marine appearance to a building which was much suitable for a seaside resort. However, during construction a third storey was added, which removed the flying bridge and the glass arcade ceiling.
The finished building, of brick and reinforced concrete with terrazzo and tiled floors throughout, had an arcade and shops on the ground floor. The four shops along the street frontage initially included a cafe, a dress shop, a casket agency and a photographer, and there was a hairdresser within the arcade: Joan Haycock, who was first listed in the Post Office Directory at Marine Parade (later Redcliffe Parade) in 1947. Mr Cassimatis ran the casket agency. The "Arcade Drapery...Cominos Arcade", was first listed in the Post Office Directory in 1949.
The first floor contained the family's flat along with serviced bedrooms, and the second floor contained more serviced bedrooms, set around a ballroom with a terrazzo floor. The provision of holiday accommodation was consistent with Redcliffe's history as a seaside resort, and the building was effectively a combination of a boarding house, an arcade, and a Greek cafe with an associated ballroom. Initially the building was named the Acropolis Building. During the war the cafe was packed with service personnel and soon after opening Arthur built the kitchen and was able to provide meals. The family moved into the first floor flat in 1946, having sold their cafe in Laidley.
The Pier Picture Theatre next door to the Cominos building:
Columns on the ground level are finished with terrazzo and some early mosaic tiling exists on one of the shopfronts.
In December 1946 Redcliffe's first nightclub, "The Ace of Clubs", was opened in the ballroom by Bob and May Borradale. A 1949 advertisement for the arcade touted the "Panorama Dance Palais" for weddings, dances and parties. The Acropoly Cafe and Milk Bar was also advertised, along with "modern flats and rooms". The bedrooms were later rented as offices.
Tragically Arthur died in December 1949 as a result of a fall from a ladder while working on his arcade.
March 5th 1959 Redcliffe Herald:"Three young Gibb boys"play upstairs in the Ace of Clubs:
Musical Variety at 4KQ Talent Quest:
"A wide variety of musical talent was displayed at the Ace Of Clubs Hall, Redcliffe on Monday February 23 when radio station 4KQ conducted a regional section of its Talent Quest. During the first part of the programme, Mr Andy Stevens of 4KQ introduced the artists, whore performances were recorded so that they could be broadcast the next evening.
Artists participating in the broadcast were Messrs. Minton, Higgs, Tarry and Turnbull Instrumental quartet) David Lee (Piano accordion) Lorral Tyler (vocalist) Len Bristow (pianist)
Herbert and Keys (guitar duet) Three Gibb Boys (vocal trio) Elaine Andrews and Gillian Ongley ( piano accordion duet) Mr Thomas (vocalist) and Mrs G Harkin (Vocalist)
Mr W Winch compered the second part of the programme which again included Mr Minton's instrumental quartet and the three young Gibb boys"
Carolyn Sawdry performed brightly in a tap dance with hoop swinging, Suzanne Siemen and Mary Hall gave piona accordion items, and Shirley Morrisey sang popular numbers. Further variety was added by Peter and Even Johnson (western duet with guitar) Ian Skennerton (pianist) Colin Duffy (impersonator) B. Minton (vocal and instrumental) and Mrs Morrisey (vocal) Horrie Ridley of 4KQ was pianist during the first part of the programme then he gave an impressive rendition of the Warsaw Concerto. Mrs E. Bristol was accompanist for artists in the second half and also gave pleasing piano solos. Proceeds from the evening benefitted Humpybong Welfare Committee and the president, (Mrs McGlashan) thanked 4KQ staff and their efforts. She thanked also the artists who had taken part, Colin Duffy for the loan of his loudspeaker, Earl Juster who had donated an iced fruit cake, which was raffled to swell the Welfare Committe's funds, and the Comino family, who had allowed the committee free use of the Ace of Clubs for both the auditions and the talent quest"
From 1975 until 1982 the ballroom was leased to the Redcliffe Art Society.
The arcade's extension through to Sutton Street, designed by Colin Tannett and erected by local builder Jim Fortune, was finished in 1968 and was officially opened by the Post-Master General, the Federal Member for Petrie, Alan Hulme.
Members of the Comino family jointly owned the original arcade until 2003. It is not part of the heritage listing
The Cominos building was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 6th March 2009.
The only other Redcliffe buildings on the register are:
Previous Arcade Tenants (1945-80)
Joan Haylock’s Beauty Salon - 1945
Jess Moy Salon - 1945
Byron,Ross & Gurr Accountants - 1945
Schoelfield’s Dry Cleaners 1945
Darragh’s Pharmact - 1947
Borradale & Jordan - 1946-48
K.Rudolph Jeweller - 1949
Commercial Bank Of Australia - 1964
Arcade Meats - 1964
Stephen & Tozer Accountants - 1964
Joan Thompson Hairdresser - 1964
Tedman’s Fruit Shop - 1964
Dr McGuire - 1964
Dr Bruce Gutteridge - 1964
Brightways Hardware - 1964
The Record Shop - 1968
Mario’s Bistro 1968
Zantis Jewellers - 1968
KJ & M Hanson - 1968
G & M Torrisi - 1970
Mrs Thys. Brown & Thompson - 1977
Teen Twenty Fashions - 1978
G.I. Bowers - 1979
BE & GO Schofield - 1980
Bleu Lavande Boutique.
BJ's Books & Eatery
Cliff Hanan - The Jeweller.
Dairy Cone Bar,
Friendly Care Chemist
Geoff Robertson Optometrist,
Harvey World Travel
Mirror Moon Clothes and Gifts.
Ken's Hair Stylist
Pharoh's Hair Studio
Redcliffe Pet and Aquarium Supplies
Roderick & Co. - Solicitors.
J. Craig Dentist
Richard Parker Design
Christian Harvest Centre.
1989 Cominos Arcade Golden Jubilee 1939-1989.
Peninsula Post 20th October 1989:
1989 Cominos building and arcade tenants:
Redcliffe Fashion House
Klippers Hair Salon - shop 6
Kellies Cupboard - shop 17
Marios Coffee Shop & Bistro.
Big Impressions - shop 15
Bayview Fruit Shop
June's Card and Gift Shop
Wallys Arcade Meats
Dairy Cone Bar
New Keam's Thrifty-Link Hardware
Redcliffe Fashion House
Redcliffe Pet and Aquarium supplies
Marle's Cake Shop
Giftware and Engravers.
A large photographic history mural is available to view in the Redcliffe Parade entrance to the Cominos Arcade, and features historic panoramas of all 3 jetties, and early shop locations :
The former Ace of Clubs on the second floor is home to the Seaside Artists Art Gallery
A page from the Pictorial History Of Redcliffe book 1824 to1949
A page from the Pictorial History Of Redcliffe book 1950s-80s: