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Chrystobel Crescent

Grace Park was one of the first estates in Hawthorn. Melbourne hotelier and leading Hawthorn pioneer, Michael Lynch and his wife Julia (nee Grace) bought land bounded by Power Street , Glenferrie & Burwood Roads and the present north back fences of Mary Street in 1846 and 1848. Development of the estate was unusual. Lynch's will provided that the estate was to be retained by the family in perpetuity and blocks in the Grace Park estate were originally offered as leasehold by Henry Byron Moore who leased the estate in 1884 from Lynch's son, also Michael.

It is Moore who is believed to be responsible for the curving crescents. Chrystobel Crescent is thought to follow the original curving drive to the Lynch homestead, which was a ladies' college by the time lots in the estate were offered for sale. For a variety of reasons sale by leasehold did not prove popular and by 1895 Moore 's lease was surrendered and the property reverted to the Lynch family. Remaining blocks were sold after 1906 and much of the architecture in Grace Park is Edwardian.

Built in 1888, 45 Chrystobel Crescent (once 35) is a grand two storey Victorian house, now set in a traditional English style garden. The house was designed by John Augustus Bernard Koch (1845 - 1928) and built for butcher John Pope. Koch was born in Hamburg and migrated to Melbourne in 1855. He designed over 78 buildings in Melbourne , of which Labassa in Caulfield is best known.

The current owner acquired the property in the mid 1980s and has undertaken substantial improvements to the house and garden. Architect Michael Munckton was responsible for the renovations which include a new kitchen and family room at the rear of the house. The previous owners had restored the building to a single dwelling, it having been earlier divided into some 8 or 9 apartments. Original features such as the marble fireplaces, cornices and ceiling roses throughout the house have fortunately survived the alterations over time.

The entrance to the house is from the front verandah which has tessellated tiles. Stained glass with painted features depicting morning, noon and night frames the front door.

The drawing room is to the left of the hall. Until the renovations, (during which two windows were added on the western wall) this room was quite dark. Although there is now no central light, the room is elegantly and adequately lit with lamps and halogen lights in the inbuilt cabinets either side of the fireplace which house some of the owner's extensive porcelain collection.

In recent years, interior designers Thomas & Alexander of Queensland have been engaged to progressively redecorate various rooms in the house. The drawing room, study, dining room and family room at the rear have been completed.

Across the hall from the drawing room and study, the dining room features Brunschwig & Fils wallpaper to meet the owner's request for a Chinese inspired look. Below the wallpaper is Dada panelling added during the more recent renovations. The chandelier is of Swedish glass and the two wall sconces are 18 th century English modified for electric lighting. On the far wall is a Chippendale cabinet housing more porcelain including two 'tithe pig' groups from the early 19 th century. Several paintings are exhibited in the room and include two by Will Ashton, early Australian impressionist.

Following the 1980s renovations, the hallway now extends through to the rear of the house. The kitchen and meals area is to the right. The family room is behind. The large French doors and windows on two sides of the meals area and also in the family room give light and open these areas to the cool greens of the garden.

The main staircase leads up to four bedrooms. The second staircase at the rear of the house originally led to the maids' quarters. These rooms were refurbished by the owner and are now a bedroom, sitting room and kitchenette/bathroom.

Across the courtyard at the rear of the house are the stables. The artist Charles Blackman lived in the stables for some years and is known to have painted upstairs in the loft and outside near the stables and elm trees. The stables were in poor condition when acquired by the owner and have been completely restored. Since restoration, the upstairs loft has been used a bedroom and downstairs is a rumpus and bathroom.

Steps to one side of the stables lead to a kitchen garden with hand pump water feature. To the other side of the stables is the pool and garage.

Robert Boden laid out the garden at the time of the owner's renovations around a number of mature trees which were retained. These include a magnolia grandiflora, lilly-pilly, liquid amber, morton bay fig and elm. The large areas of lawn with a mixture of informal plantings reflect the English style of the garden which incorporates a pool garden and a circular rose garden. The linking of these areas with the stables, courtyard, kitchen garden and water feature by a variety of paved surfaces give a relaxed country feel.

The iron lacework on the bottom half of the front verandah differs from the top half which is of a more traditional Victorian style. The different styles are continued through to the unpainted stucco, marked to resemble stone, on the eastern side of the house. The more avante-garde style at the bottom reflects architect Koch's influence. That influence can also be seen in the chimney tops with their distinctive sunray pattern, a Koch trademark.

These notes were prepared with the kind assistance of the owner and from material in the local history section of the Hawthorn Library, in particular works by Gwen McWilliam.