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Barkers Road, Hawthorn

Built in 1892 this magnificent Victorian mansion was the showpiece of revered master builder, Edward Bishop, who was responsible for shaping much of the character of Hawthorn and Kew with numerous houses and public buildings including the refectory of the nearby Methodist Ladies College, the Wesleyan Church in Barkers Road and several smaller cottages in College Parade, Kew.

A circular driveway with stunning oak trees, liquidambers and newly planted crepe myrtles, Japanese maples and dogwoods provides a grand entrance to the rendered brick mansion which stands on 19,300 square feet of land. Original stained glass windows adorn the solid main door and entrance.

The current owner was faced with the enormous task of converting the mansion into a contemporary family home while maintaining the ambience of a bygone era. Local interior decorator, Bernadette Benson was enlisted to provide support with the project that also included restoration of all marble fireplaces.

Both the formal dining and sitting rooms at the front of the house lead on to a glassed- in verandah that makes a wonderful winter's sunroom. The formal dining room features an impressive early Australian timber dining table and walls of a stunning red hue that offset the marble fireplace. Terrazzo flooring is featured extensively in the front section of the house including the service area and gym.

Works of versatile Australian artist Russell Brown are featured throughout the formal and informal sections of the home.

The entire middle section of the house was opened up to create a huge, light-filled area with a modern kitchen and open living area leading onto the side garden. The granite used on the kitchen bench tops has been cleverly incorporated in the dining and coffee tables made by Cavendish. The collection of Venetian masks is thought to include that worn by Tom Cruise in Stanley Kubrick's movie, Eyes Wide Shut.

A surprise awaits all visitors when they continue through the house to the ballroom with an inlaid hardwood dance floor, mirrored wall and recessed dome lighting. Note the original windows leading out to the garden and tennis court terrace with magnificent weeping elm and magnolia tree.

Entertainment extends further into a full sized billiard room complete with bar and catering facilities, quality timber cabinetry, brass fittings and guest bathroom.

The view from the terrace to the house highlights the simple yet classical design of the mansion. The ballroom and billiard room were most probably added at a later stage.

The tour continues onto the tennis court and through the gazebo garden with feature oak tree and fountain.