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Liddiard Street, Hawthorn

This Victorian house was described as, "possibly the most elaborate timber building in Hawthorn", in the 1992 Hawthorn Heritage Study. Built in 1881-82 for and by Thomas Barrett, a builder and land developer, this symmetrical Victorian villa has historical significance for its association with Barrett. By 1888 Barrett owned 30 Hawthorn properties and built many houses in John and Rathmines Road, Elphin Grove, and Victoria, Lyndhurst, Invermay, Riversdale, Camberwell, Temple and Burwood Roads. Barrett became Mayor of Hawthorn in mid 1887 and was also a Justice of the Peace.

His home, an important local landmark, is enhanced by the largest surviving symmetrical villa garden in Victoria. The garden was laid out at the time the house was built and several of the trees and shrubs including the palms, lemon scented gums and the row of cypresses along the street frontage date from the early 1880s. The large garden features an unusual carriage loop rather than a footpath around the central lawn. The garden furniture, terracotta tiling and ornamental urn complement the Villa Garden theme of the period.

The house is architecturally significant for the early use of the double bay and associated double cranked verandah, and the use of this design in timber construction. The front entrance, framed by leadlight windows featuring a kingfisher in the design, provides a glimpse of some of the original features.

Rich hues of yellow and blue colour the walls of the formal rooms at the front part of the house that are covered gallery-style in artwork, mirrors and pieces of furniture by prominent artists. Highlights include the sitting room with Fornasetti dresser, guest bedroom filled with Marc Chagall lithographs and Bill Henson photographs, the bush style bathrooms with melted down copper pennies used to make the shower rose and the Kate Durham mirrors and furniture throughout the home.

The original house has been maintained and sympathetically renovated and extended at the rear to feature a magnificent onion-domed conservatory and light- filled kitchen. A pair of Egyptian chairs and a matching three seater in the middle room, and Chinese doors add to the eclectic nature of the furniture collection in the home. The main bedroom is wonderfully romantic with a classic four- poster bed and opulent décor, all in white.

The Australian Bungalow style building at the rear of the property has recently been added to provide a studio and entertainment area for the owners. Many of the features such as the gabled ceilings, iron roofing and French doors typify the character of early colonial dwellings. The symmetrical lines of the main house have been cleverly transposed to this building and the use of a similar colour scheme and building materials suggest that the newer building is a lot older than it really is.

The studio contains wonderful sculptures including an Eddie Parritt metal ship supported by elephants in its own glass case, a hand painted working table that is intact, doors with piano hinges and a light filled artists studio.