A beautiful turn of the century Hill End home provides glimpses of a West End of yesteryear.
The grand street frontage of this Victorian style residence near Orleigh Park contrasts with its chequered past and the modern family home that lies behind its imposing gates. The home stands on land which originally included three acres and one road, first purchased by William Alexander Wilson in 1885, at a time when the property stretched from Gray Road to the river. The lot was part of the Orleigh Estate, Hill End, which was subdivided numerous times in the late 1880s, resulting in the historic houses known today as Nassagaweya and Wanda Walha, as well as the public river frontage that is Orleigh Park.
This two storey Cordeaux Street property is believed to have been the stately home of a gentleman, and was complete with horse stables, wash house, two street frontages and a separate lot for a tennis court, before being converted to a boarding house after World War I. Although it changed hands, Council records show the premises continued as a boarding house and was rumoured to be a brothel, servicing American soldiers during World War II.
In 1986, probably encouraged by Council’s program of urban renewal, it was restored to a stately home and further enhanced by two artists, who over 10 years, converted the historical house into a luxury, modern home that retains the ambience of its past, with polished wooden floors and soaring 13-foot ceilings. Typical of a timber Queenslander, both levels of the home have double height verandas, punctuated by wooden columns. The fancy cast iron decorated balustrades are characteristic of the Victorian era. The symmetry of design is maintained in the interior with a central grand entrance and a wide hallway with a wooden arch on the ground floor repeated on the upper level. Each of the front rooms have glass floor-toceiling wooden doors for veranda access.
Upstairs, four double bedrooms lead off the hallway, while a large bathroom, an office and a sunroom, overlooking the landscaped pool area below, are located at rear of the building. Downstairs is the perfect blend of traditional style with facilities for modern living and entertaining. The formal sitting room with its original fireplace and wooden book shelves is across the hall from a formal dining room. Both have doors that open out onto the veranda and the lush native and exotic plants which add to the aesthetic of the property. Off the dining room, behind a full wall of bi-fold doors, is an informal television area, furnished with comfy couches and cushions. Across the hall is a huge modern kitchen, featuring brick and timber, a second bathroom and a large breezeway which leads to a tropical in-ground pool.
Out the back two timber buildings remain. The horse stable is now a man cave, while the wash house has been converted to a poolside cabana and barbecue area that doubles as a garage.
Words by Maria Ceresa | Images by Darlia Argyris