Tuesday, August 28, 2012


What are those things sticking up behind these townhouses?

Oh, this is looking good.

It is the National Trust (Victoria) owned house Labassa, in Caulfield. We have reacquainted ourselves with the fabulous Labassa after our last visit in about 1981 when the Trust had just bought it. It had been divided up into a number of flats and I think some of the tenants were still in residence. I could not have taken this photo back then, as there was a modern brick veneer house in front of the house. The Trust bought the house and demolished it. The view back then was from the side of the house and very limited. Is it not a good thing that the house has been given a viewing perspective?

This is the reason why the proposed sell off of land around the Banyule homestead in Heidelberg must be stopped. Grand houses need land around them. A developer wants to build housing on the land surrounding Banyule and remove native vegetation. Banyule is a very important building in Melbourne's history. You can read about the campaign to preserve the land around Banyule here and some of the building's very interesting history. For a first class photo of Banyule click here. Surely no one would build around Banyule. It would be criminal.

Labassa was completed in about 1890 but also significantly altered over the years. It has a lot of original features intact, including luscious wallpapers and a good bit of stencilling. It is not a restored house, rather an  original house with some of the conversion to flats removed. The stained glass looks nothing from the outside, but inside it is brilliant. It lights a double staircase and it is mesmerising. Sadly photography is not allowed inside the house.

This fibro cement, perhaps asbestos, addition should be removed.

One does rather like imported pink Italian marble. Other grand houses in Melbourne are Como, big but quite ordinary, Ripponlea, its best features being its gardens and Werribee Park, quite nice. Labassa is my fave though.

What do you call the face at the top? I don't know. Click on the pic to see it in more detail.

This garden looked quite nice. What is the plant with the hanging flowers? It looks a bit datura like.


  1. Anonymous8:23 am

    What a beautiful old house - would be nice to live in such grandier.

  2. As long as you had an adequate number of servants.

  3. Criminal to tear a protected house down? Yes

    Criminal to build all around an existing special home so you cannot see it? No, but very nasty.

    Developers do anything they can to maximise their profits, and cannot be held responsible. But Heritage organisations and the State Government can. And must.

    If we lose any more protected estates, we are going to look like a blear of ugly modernity. Atlanta comes to mind.

  4. Forgot to say....I lived in Orrong Rd next to Labassa until the day I married. It looked imposing back then, but mostly tragic.

  5. My grandparents had a big house in Inkerman street with a tower at one end. It was grandmas money.

  6. Thank you for the mention of Banyule! We're waiting to hear whether it will come up before council on the 10th or 24th of September.
    We visited Labassa last summer, using up the last value on our National Trust card before it expired (we joined for the reciprocal rights for the UK and the only time we visited a National Trust property in England we didn't have the damned card with us!). It's wonderful that they were able to purchase and demolish the ugly house in front, but it's still certainly very cramped. It's so hard to consolidate a property again once it's been subdivided.

  7. It is a beautiful house, I'm glad it was saved from being permanent flats.

  8. Definitely get rid of the ugly asbestos addition then Labassa will be back to its original state, the way it should be.

  9. Hels, Atlanta has never sounded very nice to me. Btw, re Banyule, didn't you know who sell it off in 90s? Labassa must have seemed quite spooky to children. There is a two storey house in Balaclava Road disappearing under green growth at the moment. I want to take photos.

    RH, I've always wanted a place with a tower. I've not even been in one.

    Janine, I thought it was a fine example of what could happen to Banyule. Good luck with a decision.

    If it had not been bought back then River, it may well have been demolished by now.

    Windsmoke, there are still a number of sixties style bathrooms within too. Much needs to be done.

  10. My paternal grandparents lived there. I'm told I was taken to visit them a few times but must have been too young to remember. Grandaddy ran off to Sydney with a woman at the end, it's all rather vague, scandalous. None of my relatives apart from grandad have been any good; complete rubbish as human beings.

  11. Rather like my grandmother running off to Sydney with one of her students.