Suburban heritage battles often fly under the radar. The original farmhouse Sevenoaks located in suburban Balwyn was recently the subject of a heritage listing application by Boroondara Council. It was originally built in 1894 in the late Victorian style by a Mr. John Jeffrey, coincidentally a builder. Jeffrey purchased 34 acres of crown land in 1893. In 1906 the property was sold to Mr. William Nott. Most of the property’s 34 acres were subdivided and sold by 1921 by his widowed wife. Alterations to the original home were undertaken in 1927 – two bay windows and slated hip roofs. The entrance porch in neo Victorian style is also a more recent addition.
At the recent hearing the property was denied heritage protection by the Heritage Council of Victoria on the basis of the bay window alterations.
The Boroondara Residents Action Group have fought to save the property. Read about it here.
As can be seen in the report prepared by the Boroondara Council the building represented a broader heritage perspective in that it is one of the original farmhouse buildings included in the Balwyn and North Balwyn Heritage Study. (The Balwyn Study). As such it is most worthy of preservation.
Sevenoaks represents a type of building that in, our view, is often ill considered in the overall assessment of its heritage value. Rather than noting the inevitable ‘renovations’ of the last 120 years as impediments to heritage listing, the identification of non-original alterations should become a roadmap for restoration of full heritage refurbishment. Perhaps it’s and opportunity for local government to purchase the property and the few remaining similar iconic buildings within the area to protect, preserve and restore these homes to their original display and the unique role they play in the area’s history. Please find the links here to read the full Boroondara Sevenoaks Farmhouse Report as provided to the Heritage Council of Victoria. This is a long and detailed, well prepared document and it is most disappointing to see it rejected by the Heritage Council.
Similar assessments have been made on other worthy buildings based on external alterations made during the early to mid-twentieth century, for example, the Greyhound Hotel in St. Kilda (pictured) and The London Hotel in Port Melbourne were both demolished based on the Heritage Council’s rejection of art deco renovations made during the 1920’s and 1930’s being deemed too extensive to rectify. Both sites have remained unoccupied for years prior to any construction commencing.
There is a good case for the heritage protection of Sevenoaks. There needs to be a better program instituted by the Heritage Council of Victoria to restore and repair previous heritage damage as opposed to striking off the whole building based on minor alterations. Sevenoaks is an important part of the local history and settlement of the Balwyn/Deepdene area. It is well worthy of Heritage protection.
Heritage – It Matters. Preserve It.