"Kinvarra", house | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


"Kinvarra", house

Item details

Name of item: "Kinvarra", house
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Primary address: 3 Ewenton Street, Balmain, NSW 2041
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Leichhardt
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
3 Ewenton StreetBalmainLeichhardt CumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

No. 3 Ewenton Street, "Kinvarra" is of local historic and aesthetic significance as a good and largely intact stone and brick Victorian Regency detached house constructed in 1851 or 1852. Despite some additions, the building significantly retains its original and early scale, form and character including stone and brick facades, roof form, dormers and chimneys and open front verandah. The building is enhanced by a garden setting and makes a positive contribution to the Wallace and Ewenton Streets corner and streetscapes.

Note: This inventory sheet is not intended to be a definitive study of the heritage item, therefore information may not be accurate and complete. The information should be regarded as a general guide. Further research is always recommended as part of the preparation of development proposals for heritage items.

Council's Library Service has identified photos and/or subdivision plans relating to this item which may be viewed online through the council website at http://www.leichhardt.nsw.gov.au/ Select Library & Local History to get to the Library online catalogue and keyword search "Balmain Map" and/or "Ewenton Street" for results.
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Builder/Maker: Robert Blake
Construction years: 1851-1852
Physical description: Stone and brick house comprising of two distinct wings including a single storey with attic and two storey wing with hipped and gabled roof forms, decorative timber barge boards to the gable ends and stone chimneys. Two gable roofed dormers with simple cladding, decorative timber barge and casement multi-paned windows are located on the northern roof slope. An open verandah extends across the northern façade of the main, single storey wing with skillion roof supported on cast iron posts and clad in corrugated steel. The front facade has timber panelled door with sidelights and two pairs of glazed French doors with timber shutters. The two storey wing is attached to the eastern end of the main wing. The ground floor is constructed of stone with face brick walls over. The wing also has glazed French doors and timber framed, multi-paned double hung windows. A timber deck and additions are located at the rear of the building which is partially located below street level. The additions feature painted timber shingle cladding and corrugated steel and translucent sheeting to the roof. The site is located on the south western corner of Wallace and Ewenton Streets. The building is setback from and “faces” the Wallace Street frontage and corner which features a low stone fence, garden bed and high steel pipe and mesh fence on rendered base. The fence surrounds a grass tennis court which occupies the northern section of the site and corner frontage. The tennis court is surrounded by mature trees, lawn and garden plantings. A high face brick and timber picket gates and fence extend along the remainder of the Ewenton Street frontage. A modern, timber framed open carport with half gabled roof clad in corrugated steel is located in the south eastern corner of the site. The structure sits on an elevated concrete slab with steps extending down to the ground floor level of the house. A timber pergola structure has also been added to the north eastern corner of the house.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
In very good condition.
Modifications and dates: 1978: Erect tennis court and shed (D/131/1978)
1982: Alterations and additions (20742)
2012 - Removal of Eucalyptus (D/2012/443)
Further information: The open tennis court provides views to the front of the building from Wallace Street. A swimming pool has also been added to the south western corner of the site.
Current use: Residential
Former use: Residential


Historical notes: Surgeon William Balmain was granted 550 acres and most of the area now encompassing Balmain in 1800. In 1801 the entire grant was transferred to fellow surgeon John Gilchrist. Gilchrist never actually lived in NSW and advertised the land for sale in 1823. However, the sale was not a success. He gave power of attorney to his Sydney-based agent and merchant, Frank Parbury, who commissioned Surveyor John Armstrong to subdivide part of the land. In 1836 22, 2-4 acres lots mostly about Balmain East were auctioned for sale by Parbury on behalf of the absentee landowner, Gilchrist.
Four lots containing about 38 acres were sold by Gilchrist at the second major sale of the Balmain Estate in August 1837. Included in this land was a 33 foot wide road, later named Adolphus Street. Robert Blake, Sheriff of NSW purchased Lot 1, and area of about eight and quarter acres roughly between Adolphus Street and Cameron’s Cove.
Blake’s scheme for the property resulted in the building of houses on 13 varying sized blocks of land which combined with smaller buildings along Darling Street would bring in good rentals. There was no formal survey plan and Blake constructed the houses to suit the topography, water views and to make use of the main street (Darling Street) and reserved road (later Adolphus Street). He laid down no formal road system but granted right of access across the property to his tenants.
Blake built the original stone house “Kinvarra”, No. 3 Ewenton Street, on lot 7 in 1851 or 1852. The verandahed house was named after an area and village of Galway Bay and was let to a number of tenants from this time.
Blake sold his estate successively to Ewen Cameron Wallace Cameron, a successful businessman and partner of TS Mort between 1856 and 1861.
After Cameron’s death in 1876 the land was subdivided and Charles and Wallace Street (named after members of the family) were created. Kinvarra was advertised as the home of James Daniel Cronin, a Treasury paymaster who been lived there between 1866 and 1879. The house was described as a “detached cottage family residence” constructed of stone with shingled roof. A centrally placed entrance hall separated two pairs of rooms each with folding doors. There were two attic rooms, servant’s room and a well.
Lot 1, occupied by Kinvarra, and Lot 2 were purchased by George Davidson, an engineer of Balmain. He subdivided the land into parts A and B in 1879. Part A with Kinvarra was purchased by William Douglas Cruikshank, engineer, surveyor and Marine Board inspector. He was also later a founder of the Balmain Bowling Club. He also probably constructed the brick additions on the eastern side of the house. He lived at Kinvarra until his death in 1912. The property was sold in 1914 and in 1922 when it was purchased by William Finlayson, later a proprietor of the Balmain Motor and Engineering works who lived there into the 1930s.
By the 1970s the house had become derelict and was saved from a demolition order by the current owners who restored the house and have maintained the house to the present. The initial project was awarded a prize in a locally run restoration/ renovation competition (Gray and Mulroney competition). Since that time some alterations and additions have been undertaken and tennis court also added sometime before 1989, possibly c. 1978.
In 2008 Council supported an application for a Heritage Grant from the NSW Department of Planning Heritage Branch to assist with essential maintenance including repairs to the weathered stone chimney, damp-affected stone, external woodwork, roofing guttering, drainage and other aspects.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Growth of Balmain-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The site and building are of local historic significance as part of an early subdivision and early Victorian development constructed in 1851 or 1852.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The site is associated with a number of local land speculators, owners and tenants including Robert Blake who was instrumental in the early development and constructed a number of houses in the immediate area.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The building is of local aesthetic significance as a good and largely intact Victorian Regency stone and brick house originally constructed in 1851 or 1852. Despite some additions, the building retains its original and early form and character including stone and brick facades, roof form and chimneys, open front verandah and pattern of openings. The building is enhanced by a garden setting and makes a positive contribution to the Wallace and Ewenton Streets corner and streetscapes.
SHR Criteria f)
The building is part of a unique group of brick and stone dwellings constructed by Robert Blake.
SHR Criteria g)
The house is a representative example of a Victorian Regency detached stone and brick dwelling with garden setting constructed in the early 1850s.
Integrity/Intactness: High
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

It is recommended that: - the existing scale and character of the building and elements including stone and brick facades, roof form including dormers and chimneys and front verandah should be retained and conserved; - the front verandah should remain open; - face stone and brick should remain unpainted and surfaces that have previously been painted, such as the timberwork and shingles should continue to be painted in appropriate colours; - any further additions should be restricted to the rear of the building and site and ensure that the nature of the original structure is retained and remains prominent. No additional structures or additions should be constructed to the front of the building.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan I21623 Dec 13   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Leichhardt Municipality Heritage Study1990 McDonald McPhee Pty Ltd (Craig Burton, Wendy Thorp)  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenMax Solling and Peter Reynolds1997Leichhardt: On the Margins of the City

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 1940231

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