Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Friday, May 11, 2018

My Australian Cousin

I have always loved this house on Bridge Street East, Belleville. The excellent LACAC publication Heritage Buildings East of the Moira River provided the date of the build, 1911, and commented on the casement windows, the balconies and terraces. I admire the portico, the beautifully maintained property and the calm reserve of the place. Clad in cream-coloured stucco, it holds its own for dignity, among its predominately red-brick Victorian neighbours.
But the house has stood alone before my approving eyes until a walkabout in Lorne, on the Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia. Lorne is a refined seaside town, graced with ancient blue gum trees, and a rolling topography which creates lovely settings for graceful homes. The walk along Mountjoy Parade, bordered by park, sea views and bluffs down to the surfing beach was heavenly.

Along the route were a number of turn of the (last) century cottages with spreading verandahs and fine wooden embellishments, but the place that struck me was "Jura.' The colourful Lorne Heritage Walk brochure, produced by the Friends of Lorne (and who wouldn't want to be a friend of Lorne?) provided details. The house was built in 1919, shortly after Charles Clifford Walker was overspending on Bridge Street in faraway Canada, by the well-heeled Campbell family, with roots on the Scottish Isle of Jura.

original rubblestone walls
The brochure provides some fascinating information about the build itself. The materials: concrete columns, rough cast walls, orange tile roof. The secrets: inside, a structure of Knitloch, "a concrete block system patented by American architect Walter Burley Griffin" who, among other notable accomplishments, was the architect who won the competition for the layout of Canberra (this link tells the 'rest of the story.')

The interior (into which I covet a visit) shows typical Arts and Crafts details: dark-stained natural wood timber floors, skirting boards, picture rails, built-in window seats and, somewhat surprisingly, walls of unpainted cement below the picture rails, all demonstrating "Arts and Crafts principles of truthfulness to structure and materials." Here's the rest of what the National Trust has to say about the house and the choice of construction
view from the path in front of 'Jura'

The Statement of Significance identifies the builder/owner as Clive Campbell. 'Jura' was the family beach house for the wealthy western district grazier (think thousands of acres of sheep or cattle station in your fave Aussie film or novel) and his family.

Page 91 of the Surf Coast Shire Heritage Assessments document adds other facts. Clive Campbell retired here in 1953 and died in 1972. Wonder if he missed the farm?

The only changes to the house were the filling in of the verandah balustrade, which makes the house a bit heavy looking, but it works with the wide hip roof reminiscent of sheep station dwellings I've seen here and there.