"Raywell", house | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


"Raywell", house

Item details

Name of item: "Raywell", house
Other name/s: Carnegie House
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Primary address: 144 Louisa Road, Birchgrove, NSW 2041
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Leichhardt
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
144 Louisa RoadBirchgroveLeichhardt CumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

Raywell, No. 144 Louisa Road is of high local historic and aesthetic significance as one of the few surviving late Victorian waterfront villas. Constructed in c. 1883 in the Victorian Free Classical style and despite some modifications, alterations and additions the building retains its early site boundaries and a sense of its original setting, its overall scale, form, character and details including roof form and chimneys, rendered facades, front bays, open verandah and associated decorative details and pattern of openings. The building occupies an elevated siting and retains its relatively wide street frontage and a sense of its garden setting and features including front fence and steps and overall makes a positive contribution to the Louisa Road streetscape.

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 a map/plan: Snails Bay or Minature Bay of Naples : Surveyor's notes, 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 the street name for results.
Date significance updated: 03 Feb 11
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: Duncan Smith
Construction years: 1883-
Physical description: One and two storey rendered dwelling with half hipped roofs clad in concrete tiles, timber vents to the gablet ends and rendered chimneys with profiled capping. The original, single storey building faces Louisa Road with similarly detailed two storey wing attached to its rear. An open verandah with bullnosed roof clad in corrugated steel extends across the front façade of the original building. The verandah roof is supported on cast iron columns with decorative lace brackets and timber framed valance between. The front façade is symmetrical about the central entry and timber and glass panelled door with top and side lights. The entry is framed by two projecting square bays featuring two timber framed double hung windows with continuous projecting sill/ moulding. The house is elevated above and setback from the street frontage which has palisade gate and fence on stone base with heavy stone decorative piers. Stone steps bounded by a tiered garden extend up from the street frontage to the verandah. The south western end of the front fence has been modified to accommodate a driveway and flat roofed rendered double garage which is setback from the street frontage. The two storey wing at the rear also has an open verandah and balcony with steel columns and lace decorative balustrade. A single storey wing with parapeted walls and west facing verandah is also attached to its southern side. The rear of the site is terraced and extends down to the waterfront. The terraces have stone retaining walls with natural rock base and are connected by timber steps. A pontoon extends from the lower, grassed level which is bounded by a stone seawall.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
In very good condition. Some weathering and spalling and some previous patching and repairs to the stone fence are evident.
Modifications and dates: 1993: Res Alterations and addtions, fence, garage and gates (DA/390/1993, BA/1994/2).
2008: Removal of three trees on a heritage listed property (D/2008/67).
2011 - Construction of a new retaining wall to the rear of an existing dwelling (D/2011/468)

1980: Convert existing multi-unit flat dwelling into a single residence, including: - restore existing fireplaces, windows, architraves, skirtings and doors; - restore north and east verandah and cast iron balustrade; - replace stair with new cedar staircase following original location; - enlarge northern window in bedroom 1 on first floor to match style of window below it on ground floor; - install 3 new bathrooms; - provide new kitchen in north-west wing and install new northern window and doors; - provide an open air car parking space in south-west corner of site. 1987: first floor alterations to the front interior of the rear wing of the building 1993: approval for garage relocation. (from SHR Database No. 5025294).
Further information: The main roof cladding has been replaced and roof cladding to the front verandah appears to have been renewed. Some mature trees are located along the north western site boundary and rear yard. The lower level also has an interesting stone feature/ cave facing the waterfront.
Current use: Private residence
Former use: Private residence/ flats


Historical notes: The area around Snails Bay to Long Nose Point and bounded by Cove and Grove Streets, approximately 30 acres, was originally granted to George Whitfield of the NSW Corps in 1796. He named his grant “Whitfields Farm”. The land changed ownership a couple of times before it was acquired by Lieutenant John Birch in 1810. Birch built Birch Grove House, the first house on the Balmain peninsula (at 67 Louisa Road, demolished 1967). Birch left the colony in 1814 and sold the house to Rowland Walpole Loane. Loane tried to subdivide the land into four lots in 1833, however, this was unsuccessful. The area was difficult to access (the ferry system was not started until 1836) and the odours from the mudflats around the bay may have also contributed to the lack of interest. Loane sold the house in 1838. A series of owners and tenants followed, but the house remained the only building in the area for another two decades.
In 1854 the Estate was purchased by Didier Joubert, who with his brother was responsible for the development in Hunters Hill and also established the Parramatta Ferry Service. He commissioned Surveyor Brownrigg to subdivide the land which provided the backbone of the area today. The street names were derived from family members including Joubert’s wife (Louisa), children (Numa and Rose) and nephew (Ferdinand) with boundaries defined by (Iron) Cove Road and (Birch) Grove Road. Birch Grove House remained undisturbed. Louisa Road followed the ridge and prominent bend still stems from this time. The 1860 sale was premature and within 6 years only 7 allotments had been sold. Joubert’s sold Birch Grove House in 1860 to Jacob Levi Montefiore. His Bank sold all the remaining land in December 1862.
A new consortium comprising of Archibold McLean, Thomas McGregor, both merchants and auctioneer Lancelot Edward Threlkeld commissioned Surveyor Reuss Junior to re-examine the Brownrigg plan and make some amendments around the head of the bay and along the steepest part of Louisa Road to create more usable allotments. The estate was again put up for sale in 1878. Street frontages varied between 50 to 70 feet with a depth of about 150 feet. The terrain and generous proportions of the blocks made the precinct ideal for the construction of substantial free-standing dwellings, but by 1882 only 53 residences stood on the estate. Stonemasons and quarrymen were among the first purchasers. Other early occupants were professionals who travelled to town by ferry and small speculators or builders who quarried the land or buildings elsewhere. The boom period, however, later saw more lots taken up and villas were constructed in stone or rendered brick.
The site is located in Lot 25 of the subdivision which was Albert Elkington, auctioneer and Mayor of Balmain (1880) in March 1882. Elkington had by this time bought and resold a number of lots in the area. He sold this site to Duncan Smith in July 1883 who constructed a stucco house from this time. Smith sold the house to William R Ainsworth, a general produce salesman in 1885. Ainsworth could not pay the mortgagee so sold to Miss Rachel Cole Wells in February 1888. Miss Wells named the house “Raywell” and lived there from 1888 to 1928.
A Sydney Water plan dating from the 1880s (Balmain Sheet No. 1) shows the building constructed close to the north eastern boundary with setback from the front and south western boundaries. The front verandah with two square bays is clear. Two wings also extend from the rear corners of the building with verandah extending between.
The house was purchased by Margaret Euphemia (Pheme) and Catherine (Kate) Lycette in April 1930 who resided here with their husbands George and Norman and other members of the family over the following years. During their ownership, the slate-roofed dwelling was painted a maroon colour. There was a large Morton Bay Fig tree on the side of the house, hedge along the front fence and ornamental palms in front of the verandah. The front and back verandahs were tiled and when the house was extended at the back (sometime prior to 1945) the back verandah was converted to a passage with a bathroom at each end. The garden at the back of the house extended to the waterfront. The Lycett family retained ownership until 1960.
In 1979 discussions were held proposing the demolition of Raywell. An Interim Heritage Order was placed over the property on 7 September 1979. In 1980 a new owner purchased the property and supported the placing of a Permanent Conservation Order which was gazetted on 1 May 1981. The item was transferred to the State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999. The building was subdivided into flats at some stage and was reverted back to a single dwelling in c. 1980. Since that time some additions and alterations to the house and site have been undertaken including the addition of a garage structure to the street frontage.

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. (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The site is part of an early subdivision and late Victorian period of development in the local area constructed in c. 1883.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The site is associated with a number of local land owners and speculators including Albert Elkington.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The building is of aesthetic significance as a good and highly intact late Victorian Free Classical villa and despite some modifications, alterations and additions, the original building retains its overall scale, form, character and details, including roof form and chimneys, rendered facades, front bays, open verandah and associated decorative details and pattern of openings. The building occupies an elevated siting and retains its early site boundaries and a sense of its garden setting and features including front fence and steps that combined make a positive contribution to the Louisa Road streetscape.
SHR Criteria f)
The building is a large waterfront house dating from the 1880s which retains its early site boundaries and subdivision which is relatively rare in the local area.
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, character and details of the original building particularly the rendered facades, roof form and chimneys, open vernadah and associated cast iron details, front bays and pattern of openings, palisade fences and gates, stone base and decorative piers and steps and front garden be retained and conserved; - no new openings should be made on the building facades; - the front verandah and rear verandahs and balconies should remain open and elements repaired and replaced to match; - subdivision of the site is not encouraged and existing setbacks and open character of the gardens and building curtilage should be retained; - any further alterations and additions should be in accordance with an up-to-date Conservation Management Plan and generally be restricted to the rear and areas that have previously undergone some change and should not detract from the existing form, character, scale and setting of the single storey, original building as presents to Louisa Road.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan I83023 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: 1940570

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