Phillip Island & District Historical Society

Historic Houses of Phillip Island

Last updated on 12-Apr-19

At the general meeting 6th February 2013, John Jansson gave a Power Point talk on Historic Houses of Phillip Island. See the Collections section of the website for images of some of the houses mentioned in this talk.

The first house shown was “Woolamai House”, built in 1869 for Captain John Cleeland as shown in a watercolour of the time. Photos were shown illustrating: changes to this house over time, both front and back views, painting on the walls, the entry hall with mounted deer heads (probably shot on Phillip Island), the slate roof, Gothic arch front door, and the taxidermed birds that were donated to Churchill Island.

The next house was “Rimutara”, built for W T McFee in 1883. Meaning “Pleasant Island” in Maori. One photo showed the back of the house when used as a Post Office and a wattle and daub building with “Pride”, the horse.

William Richardson’s cottage was built in 1887. This building still has the original shingles under the iron roof. Family members were shown, with views inside and around the house. The lunge room had Baltic pine lining boards and was mainly used when the minister called in on Sundays.

“Glen Isla” was built for Robert Anderson in 1887, including house, shed and stables, and a fernery with very fancy lace work. His family lived there while he travelled weekly by ferry to his plumbing business in Melbourne. John showed slides of the interior as it is now including many original features such as fireplaces and stained glass windows. The society had the museum in the kitchen of the house when Lunns owned it. The current owners have done a lot of sympathetic restoration.

“Rhylston Park” was built for Joseph Vaughan in 1887. It is a solid brick house and had a number of brick outbuildings. The bricks were brought by sea from Melbourne. He had a bowling green on the north side. The lounge room and other main rooms have pressed metal ceilings and the original marble fireplace. The current owners were fortunate to be able to purchase several of the original furniture items back from the family now in Mossman NSW. What was originally a laundry was used by Richie Betts when he owned it as a slaughterhouse in the 1950s. The outside toilet was brick with a slate roof.

“Cowan Brae” was built by George W Ewen, John’s grandfather, in 1914-17 for his retirement. It is the house now called Genista House next to Narrabeen. John’s grandparents retired there in 1946. He showed the plans for renovations and extensions. The Ewans had an outstanding vegetable and flower garden and orchard. The Lilly pillies and Irish strawberry remain, and because of their shading, have changed the garden markedly.

“Trenavin Park” was built of concrete bricks by the Stoppa brothers for A K T Sambell in early 1930s. John showed slides of how the house was decorated in the 1980s while Oswins owned it. Upstairs is described as a ‘rabbit warren’.

Some of the houses that have been lost include: “Broadwater” built for the Henty family 1890s, lost 1960s; ‘Hollydene”, W Kennon built in 1909, lost 2000s; “Talofa”, built for W E Thompson by Ewen and Findlay, renamed “Windsor House’, built 1911 and used as a guest house from the 1950s, lost 1960s.