Save the Heritage House at 28 Sturt Road, Brighton

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This house is situated on almost 1 hectare of land and was recently put up for sale after the death of its last occupant. An application for subdivision into 28 allotments was recently made by prospective buyers (a building company) and this would likely lead to demolition of the house and removal of over 30 trees, most of them of regulated or significant size.

A nomination for State Heritage listing has been made for the historic house and is pending a decision. This petition will show community support.

The house is a large well-built gentleman's bungalow with, as far as is known, 5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and garaging for 3 cars. It was constructed in 1918 for an important South Australian identity, Charles Patrick Wauchope (b1868), a well-known businessman and director of Balfour Wauchope Ltd from 1924. Charles was the son-in-law of Elizabeth Balfour and was married to Margaret Balfour (b 1867) and subsequently her sister Wilhemina (b 1878), following Margaret’s death in 1911.  

Another important family that has owned and occupied this property for over 60 years (since 1957) is the Le Cornu family, who established their business in Adelaide in 1861 and continued until 1989. 

The house was built to the design of well-respected Adelaide architectural firm Woods, Bagot, Jory and Laybourne Smith (but likely to the design hand of Laybourne Smith) with the building contractor Emmett & Son appointed directly by Wauchope. WBJ&LS had designed the Jackman’s tea rooms at 48 – 50 King William Street in 1917 for Balfour’s Ltd so there was already a strong association with this family.   

The house is an excellent example of a Federation-era bungalow retaining its setting on a large allotment. It has a dominant roof form, and the materials (slate roof and terracotta details, rendered masonry walls) and stylistic elements (such as prominent chimneys) are outstanding examples of the Federation period domestic style in Adelaide. It is a rare example of a house and garden setting surviving in Adelaide and South Australia.      

The grounds contribute to the significance of the house and are an example of a large well-treed garden from the early 20th century, with lawns and many regulated and significant trees. The trees were specifically mentioned in the 2008 Brighton Heritage Review: ‘Several trees within the garden are also of note, being large/mature specimens of their species’. 

This house and its setting are considered a special place by the community around it. It is also in close proximity with other large old properties in this section of Sturt Road, including one locally listed property at No 42. It therefore contributes to the unique historic character of this section of Sturt Road as well as providing a green oasis for native birds and mammals.  

For the above reasons, the house has twice been approved for local heritage listing but this was refused by the Le Cornu family. The quality of its build and its historic connections as the home of two of Adelaide's most important family-run companies hopefully gives the house a strong claim to State Heritage listing.

There are three concerns with the potential sale of this block of land:

1.       The demolition of a house with heritage value

2.       The loss of the mature trees

3.       The proposed over-development of the site

If State Heritage listing is not granted, this petition might cause the builders to reconsider and ideally Holdfast Bay council might consider purchasing it to use as a Nature Play centre or something similar. It would also make a great kindergarten, school, aged care home, meditation retreat or convention centre, utilising both the house and grounds. Quality open space is in short supply in this area and not being made any more!

After liaising on a petition to save the trees with Joanna Wells, I decided to set up this second petition because many people signing the tree petition said they wanted to sign to save the house too. So, go for it! Please ask your friends and family to sign as well.

Please also sign the separate petition - Save the trees of 28 Sturt Road, Brighton. The link is here