Property Details

Property ID: 48


Address and Location
Street Address:
63 Lucas Road (View Details)
Suburb/Postcode: Burwood  2134
City: Sydney
State: NSW
Country: Australia

Council/LGA and Zoning
Council/LGA: Burwood

Property Details
Category: House
Built: c. 1885
Architectual Type: Victorian
Demolished: No 

- Local Heritage Item

A stylish, commodious first-class family Victorian villa residence designed to take advantage of it's large corner allotment of land, originally possessing extensive easterly and northerly views across Croydon and towards Parramatta Road and beyond.

The villa features two primary projecting bays, each identical in design facing their respective frontages. They are highly detailed in design featuring single storey facetted window bays with double-hung windows, bracketted sills and parapetted balconettes. The first floor features a pair of double-hung windows with segmental arches. A decorative two-storey verandah extends between both bays with bullnose iron roof, cast iron columns, fretwork and balustrading. A number of double doors open out onto the verandahs. A set of steps lead up to the verandah flanked on either side by lion pedestals.

Despite subdivision of most of it's land and conversion into apartments, the house is still very well intact with most original features being present and it's grounds are ample in size featuring a number of large established trees. It's main frontage to Lucas Road features most of it's original iron palisading fence. The house is one of three grand two storey Victorian residences in this vicinity of Lucas Road and is listed as a Local Heritage Item on Burwood Council's LEP due to it's historical and architectural significance.

Historical Notes
Early History

'Bronte' was built as the residence of the prominent NSW contractor John Ahearn. The land on which this house stands appears to have originally been part of the Edrop Estate which was originally purchased by John Bennett, a local resident and speculative property owner. In October 1880, Bennett purchased lots 1 to 3 of Section 2 of the Edrop Estate, comprising the corner allotment of Lucas Road and Eurella Street (then Edrop Street), being the part of the grounds of the large Victorian villa residence located at No. 65, next door to 'Bronte'.[1] At some point, Bennett also purchased several lots comprising the Lucas Road and Selbourne Street (then Ada Street) corner allotment, being part of the grounds of 'Bronte'. In May 1881, Bennett placed these 7 allotments on the market for sale and the 4 allotments being portions of land belonging to 'Bronte', each 38ft x 100ft fronting Lucas Road, were last found to have been auctioned off on December 16, 1881.[2][3] Assumingly, it was around this time that they were likely to have been purchased by John Ahearn to be part of the grounds of his future home. More land would also be acquired fronting Selbourne Street to form a larger block of land.

Construction and Ownership by John Ahearn

The house 'Bronte' was built in 1885 and early the following year, Ahearn moved to reside at his new home with his family.[4] On February 28, 1887 a son was born at the residence to John Ahearn and his wife, Elizabeth Ahearn.[5] In November 1888 Ahearn placed 'Bronte' on the market for sale due to his impending departure for Melbourne to carry out a large railway contract for the Victorian Government. The ad goes into good detail describing the house and mentions that it was built about 3 years ago, confirming the 1885 build date.[6] Ultimately, Ahearn would decide not to sell the house and would choose to lease it instead. An auction sale of personal items and effects was held at the residence in 1889 due to his impending departure.[7] Jonathan Davey Young Button, a solicitor, was one of the occupants to lease 'Bronte' during Ahearn's absence and the family would return to reside at the house by around 1893.[8]

On November 1, 1902 a daughter was born at 'Bronte' to one of the sons of John Ahearn, John Ahearn, junior.[9] The wedding of Mollie Ahearn, eldest daughter of John Ahearn occured on November 7, 1903 and a reception was held at the residence following the wedding ceremony. A large marquee was erected on the tennis court and celebrations included performances by a band stationed on the lawn.[10] The marriage of Ahearn's son, Arthur and two younger daughters, Elsie and Irene Blanche occured in 1907,[11] 1911[12] and 1913 respectively.[13]

Death of Mr. John Ahearn

On the morning of June 18, 1909, John Ahearn shot and killed himself while working on-site on the Arncliffe to Bexley tramline. He was 65 years old. His son, John Denis Ahearn, an engineer who was working as a foreman on the site at the time, along with another man ran to the office to discover Mr. Ahearn's body, clutching a revolver with a bullet wound to his head. The local police were summoned and Mr. Ahearn's body was conveyed back to his late residence. It was noted that Mr. Ahearn had been very depressed as of late.[14][15] During an inquest at the coroner's court a few days later, Ahearn's son noted that in recent times his father had suffered from insomnia, rarely slept and was very worried over business matters. He also recollected his final moments with his father on the work site shortly before his death. As a result of the inquest, the coroner returned a verdict of suicide.[16] John Ahearn was well-known and highly-respected and his funeral was highly attended.[17]

Born in Parramatta in 1844, John Ahearn spent most of his years during the 1870's residing in Mudgee where he carried out numerous contracts for the Government erecting telegraph lines and telegraph poles over vast stretches of land ranging from Bathurst to Hill End[18] and Murrurundi to Tamworth.[19] He also carried out numerous contracts for the construction of several bridges including a bridge over Cunningham's Creek, Mudgee Road,[20] a bridge over Collaburragundi River, Coolah[21] and a bridge over Cudgegong River at Guntawang.[22]

From about 1880, Ahearn moved to reside at Campbelltown as a consequence of working on numerous contracts for the Sydney Water Supply on the Neapean Waterworks. Ahearn carried out works on numerous tunnels for the Nepean and during this time formed a two-year partnership with another contractor, Allan Maclean.[23] Two of the tunnels that they worked on were known as the Sugarloaf Tunnel[24] and Devine's Tunnel.[25]

In the mid 1880's Ahearn moved to reside in the innerwest region of Sydney and worked on a number of contracts for the NSW Government's railways and tramways. Some of his contracts included the duplication of the railway line from Parramatta to Penrith [1884-1885],[26] quadrupling of the main suburban railway line from Croydon to Strathfield [1891-1892],[27][28] construction of the tramway from Redfern to Moore Park in 1891[29] and tramway from Arncliffe Railway station to Bexley [1908-1909].[30] He also worked on contracts for the erection of workshops at Eveleigh,[31] the Centennial Park Reservoir[32] and Randwick Reservoir.[33]

John Ahearn also possessed a keen interest in local politics and became involved in the local municipalities at the various locations he resided in over the years. He served as an Alderman and Mayor of Mudgee, he was elected as the first Mayor of Campbelltown on June 11, 1882[34] and served as the Mayor of Burwood on two occasions in 1894[35] and 1899.[36] In his obituary, he was credited as having played an instrumental role to drive the financial state of the Burwood Municipality to surplus, as it had been slipping into debt for some time. He accomplished this through his principle of "living within our means" and was credited as having been the first Mayor of Burwood in 15 years to serve during which the municipality finished with a surplus at the end of the year.

In June 1908, Ahearn wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald about a recently published report by the Public Works Department in regards to the Warragamba Storage Reservoir and Catchment area. He stated concern in regards to the irrigation that would be required for the Warragamba Reservoir, namely the suitability of the soil for providing profitable financial returns when irrigated and notably, that it would be unprofitable and too expensive to carry out an extensive irrigation system due to that area of country being too hilly and precipitous and the high cost of labour in Australia.[37][38][39]

Continued Ownership by Ahearn family, sale and subdivision of grounds

Elizabeth Ahearn, widow of John Ahearn continued to reside at 'Bronte' until her death, which occured at the residence on September 21, 1915 at the age of 69.[40] Shortly after, the property was placed on the market for sale as the estate of the late John Ahearn. The sale of the property offered the house on a 152ft x 154ft block of land, along with two building allotments, each 50ft x 152ft fronting Selbourne Street, being the subdivision of the rear portion of the grounds of 'Bronte'.[41] An auction sale of items and personal effects was held at the residence in December 1915, following the sale of the property.[42] The house appeared on the market again in May 1924, with the house now standing on a smaller block of land measuring 152ft x 125ft.[43]

The house has since been converted into numerous rental apartments.

  1. (Oct 2, 1880). "Commercial. Property Sales". Sydney Morning Herald
  2. (May 18, 1881). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald
  3. (Dec 12, 1881). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald
  4. (Feb 3, 1886). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald
  5. (Mar 3, 1887). "Family Notices". Sydney Morning Herald
  6. (Nov 17, 1888). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald
  7. (Apr 29, 1889). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald
  8. (Aug 25, 1892). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald
  9. (Nov 1, 1902). "Family Notices". Sydney Morning Herald
  10. (Nov 7, 1903). "SOCIAL". Sydney Morning Herald
  11. (July 23, 1907). "Family Notices". Sydney Morning Herald
  12. (Jun 3, 1911). "Family Notices". Sydney Morning Herald
  13. (Jun 7, 1913). "Family Notices". Sydney Morning Herald
  14. (Jun 19, 1909). "Family Notices". Sydney Morning Herald
  15. (Jun 19, 909). "A Contractor's Death. Mr. John Ahearn". Sydney Morning Herald
  16. (Jun 23, 1909). "Mr John Ahearn's Death". Sydney Morning Herald
  17. (Jun 21, 1909). "Personal. Vice Regal". Sydney Morning Herald
  18. (July 24, 1872). "Government Gazette". Sydney Morning Herald
  19. (May 23, 1877). "Government Gazette". Sydney Morning Herald
  20. (Aug 12, 1876). "Government Gazette". Sydney Morning Herald
  21. (July 21, 1875). "Government Gazette". Sydney Morning Herald
  22. (July 1, 1880). "News of the Day". Sydney Morning Herald
  23. (Jun 27, 1882). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald
  24. (Oct 5, 1881). "The Nepean Waterworks". Sydney Morning Herald
  25. (Jun 2, 1882). "News of the Day". Sydney Morning Herald
  26. (Sep 3, 1884). "Government Gazette". Sydney Morning Herald
  27. (Mar 25, 1891). "Government Gazette". Sydney Morning Herald
  28. (Sep 26, 1892). "A Complimentary Picnic". Sydney Morning Herald
  29. (Jan 14, 1891). "Government Gazette". Sydney Morning Herald
  30. (July 7, 1908). "Government Contracts. Tenders Received". Sydney Morning Herald
  31. (July 7, 1908). "Government Gazette". Sydney Morning Herald
  32. (Aug 11, 1897). "Centennial Park Reservoir". Sydney Morning Herald
  33. (Oct 22, 1908). "Water Board Affairs. Randwick Reservoir". Sydney Morning Herald
  34. (Mar 1, 1882). "Country News". Sydney Morning Herald
  35. (Feb 17, 1894). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald
  36. (Feb 17, 1899). "Mayoral Elections". Sydney Morning Herald
  37. (Jun 26, 1908). "Warragamba Reservoir". Sydney Morning Herald
  38. (Jun 15, 1908). "Nepean Irrigation". Sydney Morning Herald
  39. (Sep 22, 1915). "Family Notices". Sydney Morning Herald
  40. (Oct 9, 1915). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald
  41. (Nov 30, 1915). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald
  42. (May 17, 1924). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald

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Copyright © 2012 Mark Babij