Property Details

Property ID: 51


Address and Location
Street Address:
16 Wyalong Street (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. 1882 ~ 1883
Alexander L. Elphinstone Junr.
Architectual Type: Victorian
Demolished: No 

- Local Heritage Item

One three villas, along with No's 14 ('Glenlynn') and 18 ('Trevelyan'), all designed by the architect Alexander Leckie Elphinstone Junr. The villa is built of brick on stone, cemented and features a hipped roof of tiles (originally slate) and a projecting gable with a highly decorative two-story facetted window bay with large double-hung windows. The house also features tall, ornate chimneys and a two-story verandah with cast-iron columns. It's likely that the balcony originally featured cast iron balustrading.

All three villas have since been converted into apartments and have had numerous unsympathetic modifications, although out of the three villas, this one is by far in the most original condition and serves as a fine example of a first-class gentleman's Victorian residence built to the design of a prominent architect. All three villas were built on narrower allotments with 55ft frontages and are evenly spaced quite close together. Due to this, in combination with their tall stature and gently rising land, the three villas present a highly imposing appearance.

Historical Notes
This house is one of three near-identical Victorian villas, along with No's 14 and 18, to be built for John Benjamin Howell for investment purposes as a rental property. Howell typically leased the villas to prominent individuals or members of prominent families and as such, a number of notable individuals have resided at the three houses over the years.

Early History

John Benjamin Howell ran a long running business as a draper in George Street in the city from 1857[1] until his retirement from the business in 1877.[2] Howell moved to the Burwood area sometime in the early 1870's and resided at a cottage known as 'Clifton', formerly located on the corner of Shaftesbury Road and Clifton Avenue, opposite the Burwood RSL Club. 'Clifton' cottage dated back to the earlier 1870's.

By late 1878, Howell had acquired two large blocks of land. The first, being 6 acres 1 rood and 39.5 perches was bound by Wallace Street, Fitzroy Street, Shaftesbury Road (then Cheltenham Street) and Clifton Avenue (then Hilly Street). The second block being 6 acres 2 roods was bound by Wallace Street, Clifton Avenue, Shaftesbury Road and Wyalong Street (then Charles Street). These two blocks of land were comprised of Sections 2 and 3 of the Cheltenham Estate and together, formed the vast grounds belonging to Howell which he named the Clifton Estate.[3] In 1880, Howell subdivided these large blocks of land into villa sites, with frontages to all the aforementioned streets.[4] Many of the original Victorian and Federation houses built on the Clifton Estate over the years survive to this day. An 1893 plan showing remaining lots of this subdivision, including the house 'Clifton' and the three villas can be seen at this reference.[5]

Construction (1882 - 1883)

Howell, set aside a portion of his Clifton Estate and split it into 6 equal lots, each 55ft x 165ft, with three fronting Wyalong Street and three fronting Clifton Avenue. The three villas were erected from 1882 to 1883 on the Wyalong Street allotments, although due to the allotments at the rear they originally possessed a through depth of about 330ft to Clifton Avenue. In 1882, Howell commissioned the well-known architect Alexander Leckie Elphinstone Junr. to design the villas. Elphinstone designed many fine cottages and villas, typically in the inner west region of Sydney between the suburbs of Homebush and Summer Hill. In 1878, Elphinstone designed one of the most prominent historical buildings in the Burwood Municipality - the Burwood School of Arts building (now part of Burwood Public School).[6] The tenders for the villas were released in June 1882 and closed on the 17th of that same month:- "TO BUILDERS. TENDERS are invited for the erection of four (4) villas at Burwood, for J. B. Howell, Esq."[7] While the tender makes mention of 4 villas, it appears that only 3 were ever built, at least in Wyalong Street. Construction of the three villas was completed by April 1883 and Howell released ads for their lease during that same month.[8]

Tenancy by Mrs Charles Hardie Senr. (1883 - 1886) and origin of name

The first tenant to reside at No. 16 was Jane Faulkner Hardie, wife of the late Rev Charles Hardie (d. 1880)[9] and mother of Robert W. Hardie, a former Mayor of Burwood and one of the founders of the firm Hardie and Gorman, estate agents.[10] Mrs. Charles Hardie named the house 'Malua', after the small village of Malua on the Samoan island of Upolu, where she and Rev. Charles Hardie resided for some time. Their son Robert Hardie was born at Malua while they resided at the village. Interestingly, this is the second house within the Burwood Municipality to be named 'Malua' by members of the Hardie family. No. 53 Park Road, also named 'Malua', was the residence of Laura Hardie, daughter of Robert Hardie. Sometime in the later 1880's, Mrs. Hardie moved to reside at 'Lyndhurst' in Park Avenue, Burwood to be closer to her family, most of whom resided at both 'Malua' and 'Ilfracombe' in Park Road. Mrs. Hardie passed away at 'Lyndhurst' on December 10, 1894 at the age of 82.[11]

Tenancy by George C. Chalmers (1886 - 1888)

Following the departure of Mrs Hardie, Howell placed the property on the market for lease.[12] From 1886 to 1888, 'Malua' was occupied by Mr. and Mrs. George C. Chalmers. George Chalmers, an iron merchant, was a partner of the city-based firm Roberts, Chalmers and Co., iron, hardware and machinery merchants.[13] Chalmers also served as a director of numerous companies such as the Princess Alexandra Gold-Mining Company Ltd.,[14] the Imperial Arcade Company, Ltd.[15] and the Colonial, Finance, Mortgage Investment and Guarentee Corporation Ltd.[16] He was appointed as a manager for later mentioned firm, a position he would serve for at least a decade or more.[17] Two children were born to Mr. and Mrs. George C. Chalmers at 'Malua', a daughter on June 26, 1886[18] and a son on April 5, 1888,[19] however, sadly, both passed away at birth. Mr. and Mrs. Chalmers soon vacated 'Malua' and held an auction sale for personal items and effects located at the residence in May 1888.[20] Howell placed the property on the market for lease during the following month.[21]

Tenancy by Dr. William Odillo Maher (1890)

In 1889, 'Malua' was briefly tenanted by a Mrs. Giles and then during the following year it was tenanted by Dr. William Odillo Maher [1858 - 1916], a prominent and highly respected ophthalmic surgeon.[22] Receiving his education at London, Dr. Odillo Maher served as a clinical assistant and house surgeon at the Royal London Ophthalmic Hospital Moorfields. He returned to Sydney in 1884 and commenced practice as an eye and ear specialist in College Street in the city.[23] In 1886, Dr. Odillo Maher was appointed as the Junior hon. ophthalmic surgeon of Sydney Hospital, before eventually being promoted to the Senior rank in 1894.[25] He also served as the hon. ophthalmic surgeon for St. Vincent's Hospital and in 1899 was appointed by the University of Sydney to act with the professors and lecturers for the examination of students in the field of ophthalmic medicine and surgery.[26] While residing at 'Malua', a daughter was born at the residence on April 23, 1890 to Dr. and Mrs. Odillo Maher.[27] The family vacated the property by the end of the year.

Further Tenancy

Late in 1890, Howell placed 'Malua' on the market for lease.[28] It appears likely that the house stood vacant absent of any tenant until about 1892 when, according to the 1893 edition of the Sydney Sands Directory, it was occupied by a Mr. P. L. C. Shepherd.

  1. (Jan 10, 1857). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald
  2. (Oct 20, 1877). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald
  3. (Nov 2, 1878). "Government Notices". Sydney Morning Herald
  4. (July 28, 1880). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald
  5. (Dec 23, 1878). "BURWOOD MECHANICS' SCHOOL of ARTS". Sydney Morning Herald
  6. (Jun 5, 1882). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald
  7. (Apr 7, 1883). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald
  8. (Feb 21, 1880). "Family Notices". Sydney Morning Herald
  9. (Aug 3, 1928). "Death of Mr. R. W. Hardie. Founder of Leading Firm". Sydney Morning Herald
  10. (Dec 11, 1894). "Family Notices". Sydney Morning Herald
  11. (Apr 14, 1886). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald
  12. (Oct 18, 1888). "Police". Sydney Morning Herald
  13. (Aug 2, 1887). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald
  14. (Mar 30, 1889). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald
  15. (Nov 9, 1889). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald
  16. (Nov 14, 1889). "Monetary and Commercial. Wednesday Evening". Sydney Morning Herald
  17. (Jun 29, 1886). "Family Notices". Sydney Morning Herald
  18. (Apr 6, 1888). "Family Notices". Sydney Morning Herald
  19. (May 19, 1888). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald
  20. (Jun 20, 1888). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald
  21. (Jan 12, 1916). "Death of Dr. Odillo Maher. A Prominent Surgeon". Sydney Morning Herald
  22. (May 9, 1884). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald
  23. (Feb 16, 1886). "Sydney Hospital. The Annual Meeting". Sydney Morning Herald
  24. (Nov 7, 1899). "The University of Sydney". Sydney Morning Herald
  25. (May 19, 1890). "Family Notices". Sydney Morning Herald
  26. (Oct 6, 1890). "Advertising". Sydney Morning Herald

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Copyright © 2012 Mark Babij