|Historical notes: ||The original owners of the land within the Marrickville Council area were the Cadigal and Wangal clans of the coastal Eora people. They spoke Eora, which may have been a dialect of the Dharug (Darug) language, though sources differ on this point. With the establishment of the penal colony at Sydney Cove in 1788 the dispossession of the original inhabitants was begun. In 1789 a smallpox plague decimated the Aboriginal population, though descendants of the Cadigal and Wangal people still reside within the Sydney metropolitan area.
On 8 January 1794 Paul Page, William Jenkins and James Jenkins were each granted 30 acres in the area south of what is now Enmore Road. By 1835 portions of Page and Jenkins’ grant were owned by Captain Sylvester Browne (best known as the father of novelist T.A. Browne, "Rolf Boldrewood") and John Verge designed a house that looked out to Botany Bay. Browne moved to Victoria and in June 1838 the villa, called "Enmore House", was advertised for lease. In June 1840 the entire estate, by now 40 acres, was advertised for sale. The purchaser appears to have been Isaac Simmons.
Simmons subdivided part of the property as the "Beautiful Village of Enmore" in about 1841. This stretched from Juliet Street to Simmons Street. In the vicinity of what is now Metropolitan Road was "Enmore House" itself, which retained 9 acres of grounds. In August 1841 Jacob Josephson (an emancipist who had been transported in 1818) bought "Enmore House" and its grounds from Simmons. On Jacob Josephson’s death in 1845, his son Joshua Josephson, a businessman, politician and later solicitor-general and judge inherited the house.
In the early 1840s Robert Bourne (originally a missionary and later businessman) purchased part of Jenkin’s grant. He built "Camden Villa", a substantial two-storey house, named after the London Missionary Society ship "Camden". The property was later purchased by Thomas Holt. "Camden Villa" was sold in 1863 to the Congregational Church. It then became Camden College, but mounting debts forced the further subdivision of the grounds in 1876. When sold in September 1888, three acres was all that was left of the grounds. The purchasers, the Mutual Provident Land Investing & Building Society Limited, subdivided and sold the remainder at auction in December 1888 and Camden College was demolished.
By 1841 a portion of William Jenkins’ grant was owned by Thomas Burdekin and William Montague Manning, both prominent merchants in Sydney. In 1861 Matthew John Duncan ran "Henbury Dairy" in Campbell Street. It is possible that this is the same block. It is likely that in 1866 this was a block of three acres being used as a dairy farm by Daniel Doyle. The block fronted Campbell (later Camden) Street and was bounded by the Enmore Village subdivision on the west and north and by Camden College to the east. Michael O’Regan was running this dairy in 1867 and 1868.
In about 1868 butcher William Coates, of 171 Kent Street, Sydney, bought the property. It appears likely that he built a house on the property in 1869 that he named "Ferndale". In 1869 William Coates wrote to Newtown Council complaining about the drainage from Simmons Street onto his property and it was reported in July 1870 "that the improvements made by Mr Coates will prevent a similar disaster to that complained of by Mrs King." (Newtown Council Minutes, 5 July 1870) Some sources suggest that "Ferndale" may be a lodge associated with "Camden Villa". This is certainly possible, but the available evidence suggests otherwise. The house "Ferndale" does not appear on "Reuss & Browne's map of the subdivisions in and about Sydney and environs" (NLA Map F 108), dating from 1857, though this does not conclusively prove that the house was not extant at this time. Additionally, the annual value of Coates’ property jumped from £36 to £90 between 1869 and 1870, indicating that a major improvement to the property was made at this time.
William Coates lived at "Ferndale" until 1875, when the property was transferred to his son John Coates. John lived at "Ferndale" until about 1880, when James Coates became the occupant. In 1886 the Excelsior Land and Investment Company subdivided the grounds of "Ferndale" as the "Ferndale Estate". "Ferndale" was left with a driveway to Camden Street and was leased to William Montgomery. By 1894 Mrs M. Giles was the owner, with Richards and Hunter by 1909.
Mrs Emily Akers was owner from at least 1920 until at least 1932, whilst Mrs Lillian A. Richards was owner in 1948. By 1971 bus driver Alfred Smith was the owner. A public dispute arose in 2003 when the driveway from "Ferndale" to Camden Street was subdivided and sold and a new house built on the former driveway facing Camden Street in 2006-2007.