This large timber house was erected for Lionel Ainger Wiss and his family following the mid-1912 acquisition of the Ann Street site in his wife’s name. LA Wiss had arrived in Queensland from Germany with his brothers Campbell and Alfred, c.1887.
They were German-born sons of English parents. After a short time in northern Queensland, Alfred returned to England and Lionel and Campbell moved to Ipswich, where they worked for grocers W Siemon & Sons for about three years. In mid-1890 the brothers acquired an acre of land at Engelsburg, in the heart of the Fassifern Scrub district, south of Ipswich, which had been settled in the 1870s by immigrant German farmers.
At this time, the township of Engelsburg comprised a general store, two saddlers, a cabinetmaker and glazier, a hotel and store, a butcher’s shop, timber yard and blacksmith. The Engelsburg State School had been established in 1885. There were two Lutheran churches in the district, a Baptist church, a Primitive Methodist church, a Catholic church, and a small Salvation Army meeting hall.
Much of the brigalow scrub had been cleared, and the surrounding district was dotted with small farm selections of 60, 80 or 120 acres. On their Engelsburg property, adjacent to Heinrich Welge’s Fassifern Hotel on the principal road from Ipswich to the Fassifern head station, the Wiss brothers erected a small store and adjacent dwelling.
In August 1890, Ipswich architect Henry Edmund Wyman called tenders for a store and dwelling to be erected at Engelsburg, and by September 1890, a store for Lionel Wiss was being constructed there.
Lionel married Danish immigrant Maria Elise Wiuff at Ipswich in late 1890, and in the same year joined Campbell in partnership as Wiss Bros, storekeepers, at Engelsburg.
Wiss Bros was one of the earliest businesses in the town, which was emerging as a district centre following the closer settlement of the Fassifern Scrub for dairying and agriculture. Campbell Wiss had left the partnership by c.1904, but the name Wiss Bros was retained. The firm prospered, a new store was erected in 1909, and Wiss Bros became one of the most important businesses in the district.
Lionel (‘Daddy’) Wiss was a highly respected local identity, who took a prominent role in the community and the local Methodist church. In 1910, he acquired 56 acres in the centre of Engelsburg.
The site at the corner of Ann and William Streets, on the small rise overlooking the township centre, was a prime location, and the house was amongst the first erected on the hill. Lionel Wiss died in 1932.
His wife, Maria Elise, resided in the Ann Street house until her death in 1957, and his daughters Adeline and Phyllis remained there until the mid-1970s, when the property was sold. Adeline ran Wiss Bros until the business was sold in 1947.
An underground air-raid shelter was constructed in the backyard during the Second World War. It is not clear whether remnants of this are extant.