Saturday, April 17, 2021

Melbourne's Oldest House

Within the city boundaries is perhaps the correct qualification for the oldest house in Melbourne. Former actor Lola Russell is 98 years old and now in care but she lived in the house since she was one month old until not so long ago she moved into care. Her husband George Dixon died some years ago.

The house was in the Lola's family since since 1899. Lola inherited the house in 1970 and set up a café called Russell's Old Corner Shop on the ground floor and lived upstairs with her husband and children until they, or maybe just he, left home.

A few years ago with great concern about the house's structural integrity, City of Melbourne unusually assisted pensioner Lola with props at the side of the house which can be seen in behind the scaffolding. With no one living in the house after Lola  it became a haven for squatters. I believe in some countries squatters can have rights but I am fairly sure here they are just trespassers.

Lola's family has decided the house will be sold. Although before you know what, City of Melbourne was in discussion to buy the house but it seems now with a reduced income, it is not proceeding. I think it will be repaired and made into something nice, but I fear it will be enveloped by a large highrise building or worse, just the façade kept.  

It isn't particularly attractive but it was built in pre gold rush days, so it is very historically and culturally important. 

Lola was quite a looker.


With her husband George in the café.


Keeping it vertical at the side.


While it literally Victorian, unlike late the Victorian period it has little ornamentation. Maybe it is more Georgian. Hels? The side street is Latrobe Street and the house faces the very busy traffic sewer King Street.

27 comments:

  1. How fascinating that the City of Melbourne propped it up. I suspect that did mean that they had plans/ambitions for the site.
    Captain Google tells me that if a squatter stays in a spot for 12 continuous years they can claim it - always assuming that they have the time/energy/money to jump through the legal hoops.

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    1. EC, as I remember it the couple had no money to make repairs and refused to move out so council had to at least protect pedestrians in case the side wall collapsed and I guess they had some duty of care to the occupants. That is here in Australia about the squatters? It could be different in different states.

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  2. It would be wonderful if someone who cared took it on.

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    1. Sandra, maybe AU$200,000 and it could be made very nice indeed.

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  3. Outstanding Cafe Photo - All Three Have Such Character - Dig That First Shot Of Yours With The Combination Of Modern And Historical - Way Cool

    Cheers

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    1. Thanks Padre. I have since learnt I could have gotten an angle without the services pole if I stood in the middle of the road.

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  4. It looks like it's already in an area of high-rise buildings.

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    1. Very much so Kirk. It was a more industrial part of the city so not much old was kept.

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  5. The simplicity of the three upper windows certainly shows Georgian influence. I hope they look after it.

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    1. Thanks for your opinion Cro. I am not great on architectural periods.

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  6. My son had to deal with scatters and it was mess. So far the insurance company paid about $20,000 and excepting more. He out of renting business.

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    1. Dora, that sounds bad. It can put you off letting out a property.

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  7. I does look more Georgian, except for that large lower window. I certainly hope it doesn't become a multi-unit highrise of the orange brick variety. Those things are so, so ugly.
    Lola looks familiar, I wonder if I have seen her in something, movie or TV show, maybe.

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    1. Bingo River. She is listed at IMDB.com 1964 Homicide but perhaps for you, Blue Heelers 1994.

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    2. Two lls in Russell of course. Lola is a name rather familiar to you.

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  8. It would be great if it could be restored and kept as a museum piece

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    1. Diane, like an historic English house that it turned into a museum. I like that idea.

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  9. Although I worked in the City for many years, I didn't remember your building until Russell's Old Corner Shop appeared in the blog: Beside the Yarra, 2012. Not bad for a city that didn't have convicts to build luxurious houses, shops and other important buildings!

    There must be very few places still standing in Melbourne, from BEFORE our gold rushes.
    Hels
    https://marvmelb.blogspot.com/2012/11/melbournes-oldest-buildings.html

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    1. Hels, there is a church but I think it was moved. St James? That's an interesting blog and one I did not know.

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  10. Restored is always better than recreated.

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  11. Anonymous3:42 am

    If the city can't afford to buy it, why does it not launch an appeal for private donations with which to purchase and restore it for public use? Roderick

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    1. It may well come to that Roderick but broadly, Australians aren't used to donating for such things. The money will come from taxes.

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  12. Yikes. It looks a bit saggy. It's a shame to lose something so old, but it also doesn't look particularly distinguished architecturally. I'm usually all for preservation but not everything is worth it.

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    1. Steve, I think this place is worth preserving for its history and pretty nothing as old has been kept.

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Before you change something, find out why it is the way it is in the first place - unknown.