Point Cook Homestead and Werribee Mansion

To the west of Melbourne provided excellent prospects for grazing and pastoralists in the early days. This week we look at two significant properties, Point Cook Homestead and Stables and Werribee Mansions. Both Point Cook Homestead and Werribee Mansions were built by the Chirnside brothers – Thomas and Andrew – perhaps one of Melbourne’s and Victoria’s most successful families.

Pt Cook Homestead was a single storey Bluestone dwelling built in 1857. Consisting of seven rooms, with an attached servants quarters wing of four rooms, there was also an attached weatherboard wing. The front verandah faces the coast, the homestead being a stones throw from the beach. A further detached building served as ‘meat house’, dairy room and rabbiters hut. This building was the earliest structure on the site and it was believed to have been constructed in 1849.

The Chirnsides were sporting types and imported quality thoroughbred race horses from the very beginning of their enterprise. Horses from their stables here at Point Cook won the 1874 Melbourne Cup (Haricot), the 1880 Caulfield Cup (Tom Kirk) and the 1879 Caulfield Cup (Newmister), the 1878 Geelong Cup (Newmister) and many other feature races.

Water had to be stored, as there were no local creeks or lakes, and the land in summer was hot and arid. Above ground and underground tanks with an extensive storage mechanism provided drinking water for domestic animals and humankind alike.

The Chirnsides built a jetty for wool shipment prior to the construction of the Geelong Railway link being built in 1856. In fact they donated the required land for the Werribee Station, to ensure their requirements were met.

Thomas signed over most of the run to brother Andrew in 1882 retaining only the Homestead and a few feature paddocks. His son George was benefactor on Thomas’s death in 1890. George and Annie Chirnside used the homestead as a winter retreat and hunting lodge preferring to live in the city to rural life. A new timber wing was added to the homestead between 1895 and 1911 to accomodate their guests.

The property was purchased by Sydney Dalrymple in 1920, his major contribution was a new jetty which is still standing.

The Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works purchased the property eventually in 1978 after the property had changed hands several times and fallen into general disrepair.

Conservation and restoration started around this time. The remnants of the old garden were preserved and specimen trees from the nineteenth century protected. The old fig tree (edible) behind the stables is a good example. It is a rare survivor from those times and quite possible is a unique variety no longer grown.

The Point Cook homestead is of historical significance as one of the earliest examples of pastoral activity in Victoria.

And the Chirnsides. When Werribee Park was built Point Cook became a hunting lodge and focal point for all the sporting activities of this very wealthy Pastoral family. With massive land holdings on the Western Plains it was deemed destiny for the family to build its Shangri La – Werribee Park Mansion.

The Chirnsides, touched by brilliant success and terrible tragedy, were very canny Scots.

Through clever business, hard work, imagination and some very fast racehorses, the Chirnsides played the market on commodities – sheep and cattle – by driving large herds and flocks overland to Adelaide and gaining much higher prices per head than would have been possible in Sydney – or Melbourne which was but a fledgling colony in 1839.

At their peak, the Chirnsides holdings were listed at 200,000 hectares, spread across Victoria, NSW and Queensland. The Werribee holding itself was 34,000 hectares with over 63,000 head of sheep spread over property ranging from Laverton to the You Yangs across to the boundary of Port Phillip Bay. The Chirnsides called it ‘the Eden of All the Colonies’ and were devoutly Christian – but didn’t mind a punt or a drink.

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Werribee Park Mansion was built between 1874 and 1877 in the Italianate style which echoes 16th century Italian Renaissance Architecture. It was first developed in Britain in 1802 by John Nash and this grand ostentatious style soon made its way to the colonies. It was further developed and popularised by Sir Charles Berry, Architect in the 1830s.

The Mansion with its magnificent, fine interiors still holds some of the original furniture. It is a replication of a grand English country house and many of its associated buildings and features are still standing and remain unchanged. The central building is predominantly bluestone with a sandstone facade on three sides. It is the largest, most intact example of the use of Barabool Hills Sandstone applied to a privately owned building in Victoria. The original 19th century laundry is still totally intact and authentic, and is a rare example of such a facility. The sunken glasshouse and the 17th century style grotto are unique in Victorian Architecture.

The Mansion is a massive 60 rooms consisting of two wings which adjoin at the rear of a central block. The facade of sandstone is simple yet awe inspiring. A stone railed balcony surrounds the central block on three sides and is topped with a central tower that sits high above the second storey. Below an arcade, beautifully panelled and painted, allows soft light through a series of arches to the large windows of the internal structure.

The feature windows were all of stained glass and featured motifs and pastoral scenes from the Mother Land – England. Deer – fauns, stags and does all featured prominently – with 12 smaller windows picturing game that can be hunted in each month of the year.

The interior is beautifully crafted with ornate cornices, display niches and superb wrought iron detailing on the grand staircase. Elaborately decorated arches from the large feature windows, massive fireplaces with delicately carved opulent features, and Corinthian Pilasters or piers featured in the main hall, a massive formal Dining Room and a British style drawing room – all make for an extraordinary treasure of bygone times.

Parterre Gardens (now restored), the original fountain and the large ornamental lake with its unique central grotto add further to the pure joy of this building.

The design of the building was prepared, developed and executed by Architects Colquhoun and Fox.

To describe the 60 odd rooms in the building would be onerous. The best option is to arrange a visit. The mansion is open from 10am to 4pm Weekdays and from 10am to 5pm Weekends and Public Holidays.

The grounds are open from 9am till 5.30pm. Entry to the Werribee Park Gardens and the adjacent Victoria State Rose Garden is free. Admission charges are moderate. Check here: werribeepark.com for details. You can also visit the Point Cook Homestead – details here.

Walk in real history, step back in time. Thomas Chirnside ultimately took his own life – he suffered from deep depression. Andrew died of a heart attack three years later in 1890. Mary his wife died in 1908 when her hair caught fire from a candle.

The Catholic Church purchased the property in 1922 from Andrew’s youngest son George. It became known as the Corpus Christi College, a seminary for priests. The church added two new wings, the first in 1925 and the second in 1937. Some effort was made to blend the new with the old. In 1973, the Church sold the property to the Victorian State Government.

Since then the mansion has been extensively renovated by the State Government to return it to its original splendour. The property is now a museum operated by the National Trust.

So now when you drive through ‘Deer Park’, perhaps glancing East to ‘St Albans’ these names shall no longer be a mystery. You are moving through living history. Embrace it. It is a spectacular past. And a story that should not be forgotten. The Chirnsides – truly pioneers.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.

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Two of Melbourne’s Most Significant Architectural Masterpieces

Continuing our series on Melbourne’s fabulous past, this week we look at two wonderful and extravagant Mansions, their estates and history. Stonnington Mansion and Labassa Mansion – both quite different. And then there was the Wailing Wall.

The Wailing Wall is approximately 220m long rising up to 5.5m in its centre. Located on Flinders St Extension it was constructed in 1890. It represented the end of the Spencer St Railway’s Goods Yards. The wall of red, yellow and brown Hawthorn bricks stretches from the Flinders St Railway Viaduct near Spencer St, to a high point at the South end of Batemans Hill falling to the West and the entrance to the Spencer St Railway Yards and Goods Shed No. 2, which is still standing, preserved and used for Sunday markets. However the original entrance has gone, as has a portion of the wall.

To work on the wharves between 1900 and the 1940s, Labourers would line up on the South side of Flinders St, twice a day outside of the Stevedoring offices. Labourers were chosen on brute strength, and often compliance. Miss out and you were not permitted to mill around and often those missing out were forcibly moved on by the Police.

As a response, labourers walked across to the other side of the road to stand beneath the wall – the Wailing Wall – to wait for the next shift. No work meant no food, no rent, with many men driven to despair – hence the name ‘the Wailing Wall’, for these were indeed tough times.

But for the more successful members of the population at the time there was a life of rich reward. Take for example the partners who owned Cobb and Co Coaches in the late 19th Century – Alexander William Robertson (Labassa) and John Wagner (Stonnington). Both purchased and fully developed these beautiful mansions to live in and raise their families. Both men originally hailed from Canada. With Cobb and Co holding a virtual monopoly in Victoria on mailruns and staying one step ahead of the expanding Rail systems, the partners commanded significant fortunes. John Wagner also held major shareholdings in the Mt Morgan Gold Mining Company. Robertson held a large portfolio of Pastoral interests with the Goldsborough family which he married into. Robertson, a VRC committeeman, travelled extensively and was known to enjoy the finer things in life. His mansion in Caulfield ‘Labassa’ was certainly an expression of his expansive and extravagant taste and lifestyle.

Labassa

Originally named Sylliot Hill, Robertson renamed it ‘Ontario’ when he purchased it in the 1880s. Formerly a modest country house, it was built for Melbourne judge Richard Billing in 1862.

Robertson had big plans. He commissioned the German born Architect John A B Koch to remodel the house into a 35 room mansion sitting on a 6 hectare site. It was to feature gilt embossed wallpapers, ornate and finely detailed stained glass feature windows and a unique and rare ‘trompe l’oeil’ ceiling (painted 3 dimensional mural). Robertson installed massive Caste Iron Gates, probably the equal of an English palace.

When he died the house was purchased by John Boyd Watson II, the heir to a Bendigo Mining fortune, a man of leisure who did not work. Watson died in 1920 and his wife sold the property and the beautiful home steadily deteriorated for the next 60 years. It became a virtual commune in the 1970s with its hippy tenants paying homage to Bohemia and ‘the age of free love’.

It was purchased by the National Trust in 1980 and has been faithfully restored with its magnificent verandahs, corinthian arches meeting the vision of Architect John Koch in its ‘French Second Empire’ style, its ornate plasters restored and grand staircases and trompe l’oeil ceiling in pride of place for all to see. Labassa is open every third Sunday of the month from 10.30am to 4.30pm except in December and January. Follow the link for more info: http://www.nationaltrust.org.au/places/labassa/

Labassa is of genuine architectural significance in that it is the most prominent example of a small number of houses built in Australia in what is known as the French Renaissance style. It is the most important surviving work of German Architect John A B Koch who also drew upon Hellenistic sources from his German training and background.

Stonnington Mansion

Located at 336 Glenferrie Rd Malvern, this house was actually built by Robertson’s Cobb and Co business partner John Wagner. Wagner engaged well known architect of the time Charles D’Ebro. Wagner lived there until his death in 1901 having built the house in 1890.

At the time of Federation, Parliament sat at the Victorian Parliament House (It did so until 1927). The Governor General of Australia was housed at Victoria’s Government House. The Victorian Governor General was housed at Stonnington from 1928 until 1931. It hosted many famous guests – Dame Nellie Melba, the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth), the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) and Lady Baden Powell, Lord Kitchener, Sir John Monash, Keith Murdoch and Ernest Shackleton.

The Victorian Government had purchased the property in 1928. It leased it to St Margaret’s School from 1931 to 1938. In 1938 the Victorian Health Department used it as a polio hospital for children and during the Second World War, it was shared with the Red Cross who used it to assist the war wounded convalesce.

In 1957 it became the Toorak Teachers College. From 1962, the mansion was used only for administration. A new wing was completed in 1968. In 1991 the campus became part of Deakin University.

By 2006 the mansion and the attached campus were put up for sale. By 2007 the Mansion and its gatehouse and 3 acres were sold to Art Dealer Rodney Menzies for a reported $18 million for his use as a private residence. The final 17 hectare garden site was sold to Sydney developers in 2008. The former Stables, used as an Art Gallery were sold to the same Developers in 2009 for $4 million.

And so another grand and extraordinary building passed into a soft oblivion. Surrounded by units, townhouses and high density living.balance logo 20150209a

Balance Architecture recognises the importance of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.

Surviving Victorian Era Architecture in Melbourne

Many beautiful homes and estates were demolished and the grounds subdivided in the mid to late 20th Century. But fortunately we still have some superb and magnificent properties still intact, generally with all the features still functional and on display.

The National Trust by the 1980s and 1990s in both Sydney and Melbourne had managed to gain Government’s ear and attention and many beautiful homes were preserved and saved from the demolition hammer. The best known of these was Rippon Lea in Elsternwick.

Before we address this wonderful, iconic property there are two very salient points that in my mind strongly influenced this change of attitude and ultimately the cessation of wholesale, unlimited destruction and demolition.

Firstly, the notorious Builders Labourers Federation introduced Green Bans on what many considered simply untouchable, priceless heritage. In Sydney many of the oldest buildings of the original colony were saved by Jack Mundey in the early 1970s. Mundey was made a life member of the Australian Conservation Foundation in the 1990s. Jack is still an active fighter in preserving such significant buildings and sites of architectural significance.

In Melbourne it is still a little known or remembered fact that BLF Green Bans saved the historical icons such as the Melbourne City Baths, Macs Hotel and the Windsor Hotel.

They refused to allow building on parkland in Carlton and they most certainly saved the Regent Theatre and the Victorian Market from demolition and becoming just another fading memory for Victorians.

Norm Gallager was the ultimate ‘colourful character’ but give him his due – he spent 13 days in gaol over the Carlton parkland issue…

The second factor was actually raised by a poster last week – Whelan the Wrecker. The original wrecking company were placed in Administration at the time of the 1989 Recession. The compnay board were loyal to their staff and suppliers – when ‘attacked’ by their bankers, the family made sure all employees were paid their entitlements and all other creditors covered and payed out. But it was the end of an era. The Whelan team were very competent wreckers. They ran a large yard in Sydney Rd, Brunswick and were fully equipped to do very efficient work. The business was sold to another smaller wrecking company and the yard sold up with its building on Sydney Rd. A large selection of masonry and stone pieces were donated back to the City of Melbourne for display from old buildings that had been demolished. These can be viewed at the Nicholson St Entrance to the Exhibition buildings. Whelans changed direction and began a different business in waste management.

The  Rippon Lea Estate

Consisting of 11 hectares (or 26 acres), the estate was located about 8 kilometres from the CBD of Melbourne, in what was then rural Elsternwick.

It was constructed for Sir Frederick Sargood in 1868. He was a wealthy businessman, a philanthropist and a politician.

Originally it was a two storey, 15 room house with a massive garden (purely for pleasure) as well as vegetable gardens and glasshouses. A large manmade lake supplied water to the extensive grounds and by the late 1870s the property had now been extended to approximately 18 hectares (45 acres).

Sir Frederick Sargood died in 1903. His family lived there until then.

In 1897 the house was extended to the north and a tower was added.

Architect Joseph Reed was influenced by the architecture of the Lombardy region in Northern Italy. The style of the finished house was said to be ‘polychromatic romanesque’!

Lighting was all electric with the house having its own generators. This was extraordinary for the period. A full time electrician maintained the system and it included a bell system to the servants quarters to summon help as required.

On Sargood’s death the house was sold to a consortium of developers who planned to subdivide. The house remained empty for over 6 years. The developers sold off the orchards and ‘paddocks’ during this time. However the head of the consortium Sir Thomas Bent died and the remaining property was put up for sale – again.

This time it was purchased by Ben and Agnes Nathan, owners of the Maples Furniture stores of Melbourne. They lived there to the time of their death in 1935, when daughter Louisa inherited it along with a legacy of 1 million pounds. By now Elsternwick was well and truly a suburb of Melbourne.

Louisa (Mrs Timothy Jones) a leading Melbourne socialite of the 1930s undertook extensive remodelling and renovation. It was for all intents and purposes a ‘Hollywood’ makeover and to a large extent erased many Victorian era features.

She demolished the old Victorian Ballroom, constructed a new ballroom and swimming pool, a lavish new kitchen and closed up the original basement kitchen and service areas. By default this preserved the original wine cellars, cool rooms and basement kitchen with its very large fuel stove.

Part of the property was compulsorily acquired by the ABC in 1956 to establish Television studios there for the 1956 Olympics. After the Government tried to acquire a further section of the property, Mrs Jones eventually agreed that to maintain her full property she would ultimately bequeath the entire estate to the National Trust. The property was conjoined again in 1972 upon her death and was thus forever saved from the Developers and the wreckers hammers.

The property remains a rare example of a 19th Century grand estate – with intact kitchens, ornamental lake, Iron laced fernery, cool stores, cellars and stables. It is well worth a visit or if you are fortunate enough you may get to enjoy the sublime luxury of a grand wedding or event in the 1939 ballroom addition, currently leased by Peter Rowland Catering.

Next week we will visit Rupertswood in Sunbury, Stonnington Mansion in Malvern and D’Estaville in Kew. Oh and Melbourne’s ‘Wailing Wall’. For now ‘au revoir’.

Grand Buildings of the Past Gone Forever

Melbourne has a vibrant and exciting history. Its heritage buildings generally reflect this. Again this week we talk of these buildings, estates and properties that have not survived the appetite of the property developers and investors over the last century. Architectural style, real elegance, breathtaking beauty – these heritage homes of the past certainly fulfilled all expectations.

Nareeb

Nareeb was located at 166 Kooyong Rd, Toorak. It was built in 1888. The Architect was William Salway who famously also designed the magnificent ‘Raheen’ in Studley Park Rd, Kew.

Nareeb was built for Piano Manufacturer Charles Beale. It would appear piano manufacturing was somewhat lucrative as you may recall last weeks story on Gotha in South Yarra. It was also commissioned, constructed and owned by another Piano Manufacturer, Hugo Wertheim. It probably makes a lot of sense. The Piano, located in the drawing room often provided the evening’s entertainment for Victorian era folk – there were no radios, no gramophones, no televisions and almost every family ensured their sons and daughters could play the piano or another instrument, amongst the wealthier and middle classes.

It was built in an Italianesque style featuring an ornate entrance hall, dining room, smoking room, drawing room, music room, sewing room, breakfast room, bedrooms (Beale had 13 children!). All in all there were 34 lavish and expansively decorated rooms with a first floor balcony and the main hall.

Over the years the house hosted some of Melbourne’s most popular, exciting and truly extravagant parties and balls. Marking events like the Spring Racing Carnival Key dates, birthdays and family milestones, the families who lived there and enjoyed its comforts certainly enjoyed life. Popular magazines and newspapers of the time would feature these stunning events in their social pages regularly.

It was auctioned off in 1965, still using a gas powered lighting system. The original furniture had virtually all been imported from England.

Upon the death of the last heir of Simmond’s family, the house was demolished in the late 1960s with the surrounding 5.5 acres and the house site being subdivided to become what is now known as Nareeb Court.

More than 1000 people viewed the house, its antique collections and the grounds prior to the auction on the day the property was sold in 1965.

The home’s original gates were donated to the Royal Botanical Gardens by the National Trust in 1967.

Armidale

The property, located at 416 St Kilda Rd was designed and built by Architects Crouch and Wilson in 1867. Its owner was Thomas Moubray, a draper, retailer and furniture merchant.

Mr Moubray was elected to the Melbourne City Council in 1865 and subsequently became Mayor in 1868.

He served as a Director and Chairman of the Commercial Bank of Australia and Deputy Chairman of the Melbourne Gas Company. He was a committee man on the board of the then Melbourne Hospital as well as the Mechanics Institute – a thoroughly successful chap!

He passed away in September 1891 leaving a valuable estate of 188,900 pounds. This was divided up between his wife and his nephews and nieces. This represented a considerable fortune in todays terms. The couple had no children of their own.

It was a two storey Mansion with 11 significant rooms. A genuine stately home with ornate stone/concrete masonry balconies, a central fountain and an ornate, formal grand entrance. It featured columns, high chimneys and elegant fireplaces.

It was demolished in 1976 to make way for a nondescript 27 storey office block.

Heathfield

Location St Kilda Rd, also known as Wombalano, the property was designed and built by Architects Richard Twentyman and David Askew Bruce in 1884, reputably at a cost of some 20,000 pounds. The Artist Robert Reid also assisted in its design.

The mansion was originally built for John Munro Bruce, a merchant and the father of future Prime Minister Stanley Bruce elected in 1923 to that position.

Consisting of 30 rooms, this was a project not at half measures. It was immense with over five acres of gardens and grounds. It featured a Tennis Court, Coach House, stables and a carriage drive to its entrance.

It was an imposing stone edifice and the mansion was said to enjoy ‘one of the finest panoramas of the neighbourhood’, somewhat unsurprisingly!

The Mansion also featured a large formal dining room, a library, a children’s schoolroom, a nursery, a billiards room, sitting rooms and a number of large, comfortable bedrooms.

Surrounded by the lawns, grass tennis court, flower and vegetable gardens, this was a veritable slice of paradise for its fortunate occupants.

With the unfortuitous crash of the 1890s, the property passed through several families until one of the Melbourne establishment’s most famous families purchased it in the person of Mrs Bertha Baillieu in 1911.

Rupert Murdoch’s dad Sir Keith Murdoch purchased the property in 1933 and no doubt young Rupert gamboled there amongst the flower beds.

It was occupied and used by the US Air Force during WWII.

After the war it was utilised first by the Salvation Army for the William Booth Home for Girls and then the Royal Children’s Hospital as accommodation for nurses.

It was demolished by a ubiquitous ‘developer’. It made way for the second stage of another featureless housing apartment complex known as Kenly Court.

Melbourne’s Lost Heritage – Mansions and Estates, part 2

This week we continue our review of Melbourne’s more famous mansions from the suburbs – the ones not there any more! See part one here

Heritage Architecture today is more than just acknowledging the age of a building, the style prevalent at the time of construction, measuring angles and trumping it with a ‘new elegant contemporary addition’. No, it’s about restoration and recognition of elements the architects and builders of the past really understood – space, light and beauty – real beauty with any additions to a building being placed not like decorations on a cake, but as pure functional beauty. These buildings were constructed entirely for the delight and enjoyment of their owners and occupants. Many were constructed pre-electricity, as we now know it, so natural light and the sensible usage of daylight hours was very important.

Gotha

Kensington Road, South Yarra

This week we start with a very imposing building – Gotha.

Also known as Hadleigh Hall, this stately and gracious home stood in Kensington Road, South Yarra. It was commissioned for Mr Hugo Wertheim in 1886, Jeff Kennett’s (former Victorian Premier) Great Grandfather. Mr Wertheim was a well known importer of pianos from Germany. But where he really made his fortune was in importing sewing machines, also from Germany.

The architect for the house and property was Charles D’Ebro. The house consisted of 17 rooms with separate bathrooms for the family and servant’s quarters. This was most unusual as the building definitely predated the connection of Sewage to the Greater Melbourne System. At the time the estimated cost was 40,000 pounds or in today’s terms about $4.4M.

Hugo Wertheim died in 1919 and the house and contents were auctioned separately in 1923.

Advertised for sale in 1935, it described this magnificent property as follows:

A splendid two storied brick and cement residence with a frontage of 259ft (78.9m) to Kensington Road and 310ft (94.4m) to Como Ave with a depth of 350ft (106.6m).

The superb residence was built and decorated by the well known architect, the late Mr C D’Ebro and contains:

• Ground Floor – Large drawing room divided into rooms by sliding doors, a sitting room, dining room, opening onto a conservatory, beautiful billiard room, lavatory, butler’s pantry, storeroom, maids dining room, large kitchen and scullery, shed with white tiles, tiled larder and hot water service

• First Floor – Six large bedrooms and four bathrooms, large day nursery, sleep out, linen room, four maids bedrooms and adjoining bathroom.

• Brick and cement outbuildings with man’s bathroom, coal room, boot room, brick stable with room for two cars, hothouse, fowl house and tastefully laid out lawns and gardens. Excellent grass tennis court.

A report in the Argus on June 20th 1935 announced ‘the house was being turned over to the wreckers as few in these days (the depression) can afford to employ the large staff or servants necessary to maintain such a mansion’. And so it was – demolished. In the shadow of Como House, this wonderful property was obliterated and the land subdivided for four separate blocks of apartments.

Wertheim Piano Factory

Bendigo Street, Richmond

wertheim-piano-factory

Wertheim Piano Factory

For interest sake, here’s a short description of the Wertheim Factory in Richmond:

The factory made pianos until 1935 when it closed and the building was sold to HJ Heinz, the food canning business. Prior to the Olympic Games in Melbourne, Heinz ceased production and sold the building to GTV9, the Melbourne television station that later became part of the National 9 Network.

Programs like ‘In Melbourne Tonight’ with Graham Kennedy, Bert Newton and Don Lane, ‘The Tommy Hanlon Jnr Show’ and ‘Hey, Hey it’s Saturday’ with Daryl Summers and Ozzie Ostrich, and ‘The Tarax Show’ with Happy Hammond, King Corky and Princess Panda were all produced and televised live form the Bendigo Street studios of GTV9 then Channel 9.

The building and its surrounds have now been turned over to modern apartments with the GTV9 facade and signage still remaining.

Norwood

The Esplanade, Brighton

norwood-mansion

Norwood

This 14 bedroom mansion was constructed and completed in 1891. It was designed by Melbourne Architect Philip Treeby for financier Mr Mark Moss and was situated on a two acre site.

In 1890 Mr Moss was fabulously wealthy with an estimated 500,000 pound fortune, worth between $62 and $65 million in todays terms.

With the massive crash of the 1890s it is reported Mr Moss died in 1901 with less than 20 pounds to his name.

In 1894 the Bank of Victoria foreclosed on Mr Moss and took possession of the property. It then sold it to a Mr Richard White.

Part of the newspaper advertisement in the Argus carried a description of its 35 panel, 3 section stained glass windows depicting Shakesperean characters and describing it as ‘the finest window in the Commonwealth’.

Norwood passed through several owners and eventually was demolished and subdivided into 12 blocks in 1955. Its gate house ‘Belle Vue’ was saved and relocated to Norwood Avenue, Brighton.

There had been offers to turn the property into a reception centre, but these were ignored by the final owners. Prior to its demolition over 7000 people viewed the property. It was described by the press at the time as ‘Castle-like’.

As a footnote, Harry Moss, Mark Moss’s son established a perpetual trust for the Royal Children’s Hospital that has distributed over $40 million to the hospital since Harry’s death in 1960.