Here's my (inevitable) thread about these two houses, fresh after my visit to them as part of the St Josephs Open House Day.
Studley Park Road & the surrounding area is particularly good hunting ground for those interested in the grand historical mansions of Melbourne's past. An earlier thread I did on Kew was evidence of that. Both Studley Hall and Wren House are situated in Nolan Avenue, which runs off at angle from Studley Park Rd.
Studley Hall (originally known as "Waverley") dates to 1869 ( architect Levi Powell) when it was owned by Charles Griffith. He soon sold the house, in 1873, to a John Simpson...at which time the house comprised 4 rooms and stood on 13 acres. Simpson had architects Reed, Henderson and Smart design the additions/renovations which resulted in much the same house which exists today - boasting 20 rooms, with a ballroom and cellars.
As with many of the houses built on this scale, its history of owners and uses is many & varied. In 1900 it was the residence of consul for Austria-Hungary Count Carl Ludwig Pinschoff - who changed the name of the house to Studley Hall. The outbreak of WWI and the fact that Austria-Hungary were with the axis led to the departure of the Pinchoffs.....& stay out!
This picture (1904) shows the house during the Pinschoff's tenure:
The house next served as a rest home for war service nurses until in 1920 Thomas Burke, a catholic businessman, purchased the house and presented it to Archbishop Mannix who then presented it to Xavier College....which, after some alterations, opened it as a Preparatory School in 1921.
Here's the front of the house:
Here's one of the front head on. In 1991 a lot of the building was was redecorated. The external area certainly appeared in very good condition:
The eaves along the side of the house are nicely finished:
This is the view off to the city from the forecourt of the house; can see why the house was built here in the first place. Pity no one took a picture of this view in 1869:
Looking down from the forecourt you are able to get an idea of the size of the mansions grounds:
Unfortunately the guide to the open houses specifically forbids photography of the interiors. The interior of Studley Hall is impressive and in good order, the large ballroom at the rear of the ground floor now serves as a library. Only the ground floor was open for viewing, a lovely staircase leading to the temptation of the first floor was blocked off.....J.T.Collins took a picture of the staircase in 1968:
Off to one side down a hall is the entrance to the cellars which have now been converted to two large classrooms.....I was able to sneak a picture of the stairs down to the cellar:
Wren House (originally known as Studley House) is a couple of minutes walk further up Nolan Avenue. Its most famous occupant was John Wren (who bought the property in 1902) - but the house dates to as early as 1859 when a house was built on the site for the mayor of Melbourne John Hodgson.
In 1919 Wren had Studley House rebuilt into the mansion which exists today. After the death of Wren in 1953 the house was eventually purchased by Xavier College in 1966 and then renamed Wren House. The house now forms part of the preparatory school of Xavier College and is used as the music and art school.
Walking down the drive to the house:
I couldn't resist sneaking a couple of interior shots in when the staff stationed around the house were distracted or elsewhere, though the resulting pictures aren't anything special.
Here's a murky shot of a ground floor class room. The lovely ceiling is still evident and it gives a good indication of the proportion of the some of the mansion's rooms:
I quickly snapped this shot of the landing on the first floor. You can see the lush woodwork and doorways to each room....from memory every room in the house had the same grand entry:
This is a shot of a corridor that ran off at the rear of the landing shown in the previous photograph:
Out on the balcony, which runs along all but one side of the house:
The view from the balcony is magnificent, this little picture looking out over the school's tennis court gives an idea:
Some people looked at me a little oddly when I strode out on to the tennis court to look back at the house to get these photographs:
Wren House was also impressive, but I have to say it's conversion to a school just appeared a little forced and slipshod. The layout of the house and the size of some of the rooms obviously have made it difficult when it came to putting the property to its present use and some of the work done to install lighting and cabling for computers makes the rooms look run down and shabby.
It's difficult to imagine how these houses would have survived unless they had become part of Xavier College. Thank goodness they did.