STILL STANDING: Kim Smith has looked after the old Queenslander for 20 years.
STILL STANDING: Kim Smith has looked after the old Queenslander for 20 years. Jacob Carson

Good food, ghost stories, and a slice of local Gympie history

CATCHING the eye in the middle of town with its beautiful, classic Queensland style, the Kingston House is still managing to make an impression after 115 years.

Surrounded by its lush garden on Channon St, the love and dedication shown to the house by its various owners throughout the years is clear.

"The main area of the house hasn't changed much throughout it's history,” says Kim Jones, the current owner of the property and the restaurant now occupying the house.

"In a lot of ways, I think our customers and the people who visit appreciate that more than adding new things.”

Ms Jones is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Kingston House Impressions next weekend with a masquerade party, complete with drinks and live music.

Since it's opening in 1996, the restaurant has grown into a favourite amongst locals and visitors to Gympie, offering patrons a chance to dine in a piece of the town's history.

"It certainly hasn't felt like I've been here for 20 years,” she says.

"Things move quickly when you're working at a restaurant.”

Originally constructed in 1901, Kingston House was first the home of mine manager David Menzies, who built the Queenslander with his wife Mary.

The land surrounding Channon St itself originally belonged to Mary's former husband, John George Henry.

Mr Henry, who had been granted the land in the 1870s, died young - leaving control of the land to his wife.

Mary Menzies lived in the home until her own death in 1928, whereupon it passed to her daughter Clara before receiving new life under the care of Doctors Cunningham and Stanley.

It's here, during Kingston House's tenure as a private surgery and maternity hospital, that it earned its reputation as a local haunt - literally.

Dr Stanley, who had finished his work for the day, was due to attend a social function at the nearby golf club.

He never made it, discovered dead by Dr Cunningham's wife from an apparent (and suspicious) insulin overdose.

Dr Cunningham soon left the house for Tasmania, leaving his wife as well not long after.

Visitors to the home have often reported spooky sights and sounds through the night.

For example, the piano sitting in what used to be the operating theatre is said to play itself, equipment turns itself on and off and most notably - there's the occasional visit from an apparition.

Ms Jones and her staff are well aware of the strange goings-on at Kingston House, but treat them with good humour.

"The first experience I really had came within the first year after I bought the building,” she says.

"I saw glimpses of a shadow flickering where the bar sits.”

Since then, Ms Jones, her staff and several guests have allegedly run into or felt the presence of this shadowy figure, who they claim is a perpetually restless Dr Stanley.

"He's a friendly ghost, she adds, "we don't feel threatened.”

Supernatural encounters aside, there's still plenty to attract visitors to the home.

An expansive and well furnished veranda runs along the perimeter, with the garden offering protection against the harsh Queensland sun.

"It's easily the most popular area in the entire restaurant for our customers,” Ms Jones says.

"They love the chance to just sit here and enjoy the atmosphere.”

Inside, the expansive windows allow natural light to fill the main dining room and lounge area.

The large space inside the house has also been used well, to prevent diners from feeling too claustrophobic.

By keeping things simple, Kim added, the classic style of the home shines through.

"The lounge area is personally my favourite in the entire home,” she says.

"The goal was to create an inviting space for people to come, eat and enjoy themselves.”

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