Thursday, August 08, 2013

Open House Saturday Morning

Why did I not organise for this year's Open House? We walked up Domain Road to Airlie at the corner of Punt Road and joined the queue to see the substantial house. We were kept informed of the waiting time, 50 to 60 minutes. People who had booked joined the next group of people to go in.

 Airlie has a very nice street appearance.

 

As you can see, it was a police college, but it was oh such much more.

 

Not so patiently queuing on the return verandah looking into the dining room that most certainly would not have been a dining room. Eventually in a group eight we entered. Our guides were a senior policeman from the Glen Waverley Police Training Academy and a teenage kid. No, he wasn't. He was boyish looking detective. The older one had lived at Airlie for two weeks several years ago as he underwent a leadership training course. Leadership courses and similar are its primary use now although at times it is hired our for business gatherings.


We were told the gardens were better ten years ago when there was a full time gardener. The history of the house was seriously lacking but I expect if it is open next year, this will be somewhat remedied. You can see the traffic light in Punt Road. There used to be a saying, never drive south on Punt Road. I think it is now never go near Punt Road in a motor car.


The house next door was substantial. Cutting the stem of the ornamental grape must have been easy enough. Removing the vine itself is all too hard.


 Intelligence during the WWII. Do intelligence and war really go together? Z Special Operations sounds very spook like. Btw, don't worry about ASIO or ASIS if it still exists. You need to be very afraid of Defence Signals Directorate and I am not talking history. They are watching and monitoring you.


Airlie in stained glass above the main door. The house has been much altered over the years and the side porch above the front door looks like 1920 addition to me.


I took an instant dislike to this ceiling. The walls had been built out to the edge of the door architraves yet the walls still lined up with the ceiling. Nothing much was making sense about the place to me.


Now this I do like this skylight. The fireplaces all appeared on be non original, with some timber and some marble.


I normally like moulded ceilings, but I am not keen on this one either. It is sufficient to say that over the years house has been bastardised (sorry about the architect tech term).


While this lamp quite suits, it is not original  or from the period of its style. I can't think of the name of this type of archway. The lead light glass work is quite new and was commissioned at huge expense. Further along the hall was an old lift cage from when the house was a tuberculosis hospital post WWII. It was converted to a phone box for police who were living in to use.  No need for a public telephone now.


We then went to the very modern, spacious and well equipped kitchens where the chef was making gorgeous cup cakes to sell as fund-raisers for Open House. He did not seem that old, but he had worked there a long time and was the most knowledgeable about the house's history. He has recently cooked for royalty who dined at the house but I can't recall which ones now. One of the younger ones, maybe William when he came here and visited bush fire sites.  Airlie was built in 1872 and its land extended down to the Yarra River and to a considerable width. This is a rather classic photo from the State Library and I wish it was a bit clearer. It is of Punt Road running up the hill in South Yarra before the bridge was built and a punt was your mode of transport. The road doesn't look so steep, but believe me, it is. At the top of the hill to the right of Punt Road is the top of Airlie and the land to the right of Punt Road was Airlie property. Jayne, where is your place on the hill? Ah, she is swanning around overseas, I think.


Down to the basement pantry.


Which, as this leaflet pasted on the pantry wall attests with information about what to do in case of an air raid, was a shelter.


What is this hole that can be viewed outside the window of the pantry? It is crawl tunnel that runs under Punt Road to the German Embassy on the opposite side of the street. After a few drinks at the police college one evening, a brave policeman set off to explore the tunnel. It was collapsed at Punt Road, probably by works by a utility company.


Gates out onto Punt Road. I dare anyone to try get out onto Punt Road from the gates.


The southern fa├žade facing downhill.


Stables and carriage house.


We were told this is the oldest Peppercorn tree in Australia. It looked the part.


It was a bit hard to photograph much more with so many people around so I have used this photo from the Vic Police website shows what Airlie looks like now with what is surely a 1920/30s portico.


It is certainly very different to what is seen in this earlier photo that was given to us at the house.


A cold breeze had sprung up and we headed for home, but not without stopping at Domain Road cafe for a good cup of coffee. The weather was ok enough to sit outside. Who the eff keeps pushing their chair against the back of mine? Eventually I became grumpy enough to turn around to have a word, and there was a Boris dog, an Old English Sheep Dog. It was very shortly after Craig's Boris died and we don't see many Old English Sheep Dogs on the streets of Melbourne, so I thought it was a remarkable co-incidence.

I am afraid after being out for three hours and queueing for an hour, we had taken our fill of Open House, but there was an errand to run in the afternoon, and we had another less significant and much easier Open House experience. Later.



20 comments:

  1. Hi Andrew. You're more critical of architectural detail than I am. I like the house very much - even the ceilings!
    How lovely to have dear Boris re appear in Melbourne.
    He always was a hog for the limelight.
    Thanks so much for remembering him!

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    1. Craig, the house had been altered so much over the years, it was hard to know if any of it really was original. OESD are really the most friendly looking dogs.

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  2. The idea of Open House Day, to visit homes and gardens of the Great and the Good, is rather brilliant. I feel like the family has just popped out for dinner and I am snooping in their private space.

    I don't mind at all if Arlie was originally built in 1872 and has been changed many times since ....as long as they tell us what the changes were!! It is inevitable that the 5 or 6 generations who lived there since the first family would each want to make its mark. But big burly policemen, stomping around in their boots, could not have been good for the house.

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    1. Hels, the house history was somewhat missing. I rather like the idea of big burly policemen stomping around!

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  3. how gorgeous! I love old houses - wish I had gone now.

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    1. M, really, one old house is like another. It is the history of them that makes them so interesting.

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  4. Love this house!
    Thanks for taking us on the tour, I even love those ceilings but what a shame about the loss of that fabulous verandah.
    Lovely, lovely!

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    1. Glad you like it Jayne. You probably walked past it when you were lost on your way from the Bot Gardens to the Station while pushing your dad.

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  5. It is a beautiful old house.I think it would be nice to return it to its original glory. Shame that there wasn't more history available for you.

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    1. Diane, that is what I would like to see, it returned to its original state. Original 1870s are non existent, I think.

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  6. I know nothing about architectural periods or era or styles, whatever, so to me it just looks like an interesting old house. If the ceilings or light fixtures or even the bookshelves are wrong, I wouldn't know. I quite like the basement pantry.

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    1. River, there is such a thing as just liking something without any deconstruction. There were no bookshelves. Coppers don't read.

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    2. No bookshelves? Where did they store their case files? I would be miserable without at least one bookshelf.

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    3. Maybe they had portable bookshelves that have been moved out. I agree, one does need bookshelves, more than one.

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  7. I love old houses. Always have. This one is absolutely fascinating.

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    1. Keith, its history is quite fascinating.

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  8. Yup there was definitely something jarring about those ceilings! A very interesting trip Andrew. Very cool to see the older picture. Imagine..a Boris reincarnation, that was a nice way to end your open house excursion :)

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    1. Grace, it hardly looks like the same house in the old photo. Boris dogs certainly have a big physical presence.

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  9. What an interesting visit ! I agree with you war and intelligence don't really go well together, they should divorce forever !

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    1. Gattina, and the world would be a better place.

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