Welcome to Kalbar’s unique heritage precinct containing the Wiss Emporium c.1909 and Wiss Cottage c.1890.
Built for Mr Lionel Ainger Wiss, this quintessential country store and dwelling enables you to experience a moment of Queensland’s past and colourful history.
Kalbar is situated within the rich, fertile Fassifern Vally in the Scenic Rim region, fringed by the majestic and world heritage-listed Scenic Rim mountains of South-East Queensland. This giant extinct volcanic caldera is only 60 minutes from Brisbane’s CBD heading towards Warwick.
The Wiss Emporium is still a landmark building in Kalbar today and attracts interest from afar. Constructed in 1909 for Lionel Ainger Wiss (a grand old pioneer in the highest sense of the word) and at a time when only hand tools were available for use, it was quality crafted from magnificent timber directly logged from the original surrounding forest – clearly this was a time when buildings were made to last!
The Wiss Emporium was built to replace the original General Store that the two Wiss brothers -Lionel and Campbell, first established in 1890. This small store was called Wiss Bros. and stood on the present site of the big Emporium building and beside Lionel Wiss’ first residence now known simply as the Wiss Cottage.
The new Emporium building was said to be six times larger than its predecessor, and in afterthought, was developed into a classic early twentieth century “department store”. It boasted of being a “Universal Providers … the House of Quality”, and sold a great variety of goods from the most delicate lace and haberdashery items to sweets, newspapers, produce, groceries, hats, boots, shoes, drapery, tailors, ironmonger, hardware, stoves, paint, household furniture, insurance, farm machinery, milking machines, separators, tractors, oil engines, petrol and kerosene. It also traded farm produce, acted as agent for major farm equipment suppliers and offered substantial credit doing much to assist the local farmers.
Today, following a meticulous and carefully researched restoration by the current owner, the Wiss Emporium and Cottage buildings have returned as the “Star of the Fassifern” just as the Wiss Emporium was the jewel in the crown of the Wiss Family’s vast commercial enterprise in the early part of the 20th Century.
Both buildings are listed by the National Trust of Queensland due to their cultural heritage and significance. Much valued and treasured by the local community as a link to the past and for future generations to enjoy, the Wiss Emporium is regularly used for specific community events, charity functions and is now open to the public every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Wiss Emporium is “almost famous” and is invariably used as a draw-card to encourage tourists and visitors to our beautiful Scenic Rim region. It is highlighted in much of the principal advertising for the area: on tourist brochures, guidebooks, newspaper articles and television programs. Visitors marvel at the grandeur and craftsmanship of the intact, early 20th century, huge timber building of a general purpose country store contrasted against the primitive construction and quaintness of the c.1890 little worker’s cottage. This sharp contrast clearly illustrates the Wiss Family’s humble beginnings and their growth to establish one of the most important businesses in the town, as the town progressed into being the centre of a thriving dairying and agricultural district in the early part of the 20th century.
Today both buildings stand proud as evidence of a bygone era. Come visit us soon!
101 George Street, Kalbar,