Introduction

Victorian houses rarely go out of fashion. Rediscovered in the 1970s, the subsequent decades saw many of these fine period homes restored and extended to suit contemporary living. From the street, these homes come with bay windows, tessellated verandahs and impressive front doors, complete with leadlight side panels. Many of these Victorian homes were originally built for wealthy pastoralists, with many, particularly the larger homes, having a civic quality.

1. Location: 1 Cross Street, Toorak

This Victorian terrace spread across two street frontages beautifully combines the past with the present. Restored and extended by Swaney Draper Architects, the new garage and studio thoughtfully ‘slips’ beside the ornate two-storey Victorian home. While the original Victorian house exudes fine period details, such as wrought iron lacework verandahs, the rear contemporary addition is expressed with large picture windows that overlook a swimming pool and landscaped garden.

2. Location: Trawalla – 22 Lascelles Avenue, Toorak

Built in 1867, Trawalla, although still grand, sits on a considerably reduced plot. One of Toorak’s grand villas, its western elevation has a distinctive bow-fronted façade with striking Corinthian columns. As expected from a home as lavish as Trawalla, passing through the front door reveals an impressive lobby/entrance hall, large stained glass windows and carved marble fireplace surrounds in the formal rooms. Flowing reception areas and a billiard room with a vaulted ceiling are all included, together with nine bedrooms, a few of which would have been used by servants at the time.

3. Location: 1 Illawarra Crescent, Toorak

Designed by James Birtwhistle, this grand Victorian home includes many fine classical details and opulent finishes rarely found today. The home’s tower, with its monumental massing and stacked temple-like forms, take on a civic quality, something that would easily fit into a town square. As described by well-known academic Dr. Philip Goad, a well-known academic, this building, currently used by St Catherine’s School, is a ‘vast sleeping duchess awaiting an appropriate grand awakening’.

4. Location: 7-9 Carmyle Avenue, Toorak

Built in 1879 and designed by Francis Maloney White, this luxurious home is clearly of another era, with almost 1,000 square metres of internal floor space set on 2,000 square metres of gardens. Here you’ll find a grand timber staircase created to impress guests, ornate fretwork, deep bay windows and rich period detailing. There are vast entertaining spaces and even an impressive music room, complete with a grand piano.

5. Location: 49 Mathoura Road, Toorak

As with many substantial Victorian homes, this one comes with generous bay windows and deep verandahs. This abode was designed by the renowned architect John Beswicke in 1888, and has been carefully restored and extended by JCB architects. From the rear, there’s a cantilevered timber-clad first floor wing that includes the main bedroom, enjoying views of the city skyline. And while the contemporary addition is concealed from the street, the multi-coloured high brick fence and steel gate offers a clue that there’s something to see behind this majestic period façade.

Text by Stephen Crafti
Images courtesy of Kay & Burton

Images courtesy of Kay & Burton

Images courtesy of Kay & Burton


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