Tresillian - 2 Storey Federation Queen Anne Style Mansion; 1920s Nurse’s Home | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Tresillian - 2 Storey Federation Queen Anne Style Mansion; 1920s Nurse’s Home

Item details

Name of item: Tresillian - 2 Storey Federation Queen Anne Style Mansion; 1920s Nurse’s Home
Other name/s: Tresillian - Federation Queen Anne style mansion
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Mansion
Primary address: 2-4 Shaw Street, Petersham, NSW 2049
Local govt. area: Marrickville
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
2-4 Shaw StreetPetershamMarrickville  Primary Address
Addison RoadPetershamMarrickville  Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

Tresillian - 2 storey Federation Queen Anne style mansion; 1920s nurse’s home; garden, including interiors.

Tresillian is of historical significance due to its historical association with Frederick Langdon, alderman and mayor on Petersham Council.,and as one of the grand residences of the wealthy in this location from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. . Tresillian is the earliest and one of the most substantially developed of the Tresillian homes, an important movement for mothers and babies in New South Wales from 1920 to the present. The movement's name is taken from this house - Tresillian.
Tresillian is of historical significance due to its historical association with Frederick Langdon, alderman and mayor on Petersham Council.
The original house, Tresillian, is of aesthetic significance as a fine, substantial Federation Queen Anne style mansion built for the locally important Frederick Langdon, joiner, who later became politically active and served as mayor of Petersham between 1905 and 1908. The exterior and internal joinery is especially fine.
The circa 1920s nurse's quarters to the west of the house also have some aesthetic significance. The garden and the prominent corner site have aesthetic significance.
The Tresillian movement is of national significance, and as this house is the earliest Tresillian establishment, after which the movement was named, it is considered that Tresillian has national social significance for past and present generations of families which accessed Tresillian services, particularly at this site. This significance would be further explored via oral history research.
The house is rare as a location where an important movement promoting the health of mothers and babies began in Australia.
The house is a fine representative Federation Queen Anne style mansion.
Date significance updated: 31 Aug 17
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.

Description

Builder/Maker: Frederick Langdon, local joiner
Construction years: 1900-
Physical description: The property is on a prominent corner site at the intersection of Shaw Street and Addison Road. The main house Tresillian is a two storey freestanding Federation Queen Anne style mansion with elaborate detailing including a 2 storey return verandah/balcony facing the Shaw Street/Addison Road intersection, with elaborate turned timber posts and fretwork, and turned spindle balustrading. The mansion has a hipped and gabled slate roof. Timber panelled doors feature leadlight fanlights. Windows are generally large timber framed double hung windows. Windows to projecting bays have semi-circular heads and are placed between pairs of elaborately detailed engaged columns to both levels. Chimneys are face brick with polychorme brick strapwork (note the chimneys are the only evidence for the original brickwork). The originally face brick walls of the house, with the exception of the chimneys, have been cement rendered.
To the west of the main house is a single storey face brick c. 1920s nurses quarters, which appear reasonably intact. This building features a hipped unglazed terracotta tiled roof. To the north of the main house, facing Shaw Street, is a c. 1970s buidling which is not considered significant. Various later rear extensions to the main house are not considered significant.
The garden setting of the house retains significant plantings, and has significance, partly due to the role of the garden in the care of mothers and babies during the period the property operated as part of the Tresillian maternal and child health movement.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Fair
Date condition updated:07 Nov 08
Modifications and dates: A single storey brick Nurse's Home was built in the 1920s to the west of the main house. There are also evident extensions on the west elevation of the mansion.

Extensions carried out in 1975 to the north added a new wing, including a family room, with accomodation for fathers and other children, and four nurseries.

At some stage the external walls of the main house, Tresillian have been completely cement-rendered, with the exception of the chimneys, which remain as evidence of the originally fine polychrome brickwork of the mansion.
Further information: Draft

History

Historical notes: Tresillian was built by Frederick Langdon, timber merchant and politician, in 1900. Langdon named Tresillian after a Cornish hamlet near the town of Truro. Although built as a grand residence, it was used as a private house for fewer than 20 years. It was purchased by the Royal Society for the Welfare of Mothers and Babies in 1920.
The opening of Tresillian House, "the first infant welfare training school in Australia" was reported on 1 September 1921. Dame Margaret Davidson was recorded as the then head of the movement, along with the information that the movement promoted the Plunket system of care of infants. (Argus, Melbourne, Sydney day by day column, Thursday 1 September 1921).
Florence Elizabeth McMillan (1882-1943) was an early director of Tresillian House. In London in 1919 McMillan attended lectures at the Babies of the Empire Society where she trained in (Sir) Truby King's 'Plunket Mothercraft Method' before returning to Australia where her A.A.N.S. appointment terminated that year. She completed her obstetrics certificate at the Royal Hospital for Women, Paddington. King then asked her to take charge of the New Zealand Plunket Society's main training school at Dunedin. In 1922 McMillan was back in Sydney, directing the Tresillian Mothercraft Training Centre which had been established by the Royal Society for the Welfare of Mothers and Babies to train nurses for baby clinics. A 'resolute and fixed determination (often called obstinacy) to carry out to the letter the teaching of . . . Truby King' found Sister McMillan at odds with Sydney physicians. She refused to resign and her dismissal in February 1923 caused 'something of a stir in medical and nursing circles'. As the result of a public meeting in March, the Australian Mothercraft Society was formed with the backing of her father and stepmother. Elizabeth became its director. A small, serious woman, with large brown eyes and dark hair, she had 'a quiet air of authority' and marked sincerity. She was devoted to her work, supervising nurses at Karitane (the society's training school at Coogee) and corresponding with country mothers." (www.adb.online.anu.edu.au - biography of McMILLAN, FLORENCE ELIZABETH (1882-1943), nursing sister, born on 21 January 1882 at Burwood, Sydney).
During the 70 years that Tresillian functioned as a hospital there have been many modifications to the main house and to the site, including construction of various nurse's quarters and wards form the 1920 onwards.
Since 1920 the name of the house has become synonymous with mothercraft training in Australia.
The following is from a Statement of Heritage Impact prepared by Clive Lucus, Stapleton and Partners, 2001:
The Society for the Welfare of Mothers and Babies was founded at the Sydney Town Hall on 4 November, 1918. Its aim was to coordinate the work of various agencies (both private and government) working in the area of midwifery and infant health. The Governor of New South Wales officially launched the 'Society for the Welfare of Mothers and Babies', which also enjoyed the patronage of Queen Mary from its inception to her death. In 1954 Queen Elizabeth granted her patronage to the society following her visit to Australia and allowing it to add the title 'Royal' to its name. Baby Health Centres were established in Woolloomooloo and Surry Hills in 1919 and in 1920 the society was incorporated by an Act of Parliament with the stated aim to 'save baby life, improve the conditions of life of children up to school age and ensure proper nursing and health conditions for mothers before and after birth'.
In c1920 the society bought 'Tresillian', a large house at 2 Shaw Street, Petersham that had been built by Fredrick Langdon, a local timber merchant in 1900. Fredrick Langdon was the son of a master mason in Cornwall and had emigrated with his brothers to Australia in the 1880s.
With his brother Laurence and another partner, John Hopkins, he established a timber and joinery business in 1888 which was called Langdon, Hopkins and Langdon. It occupied the site of Newman's Timber Mill which had been operating since 1837. The firm became a limited liability company in 1931 and changed its name to Langdon and Langdon Pty Ltd in 1937.
Fredrick Langdon served as an alderman on Petersham Council for 14 years between 1899 - 1913 and was mayor of Petersham between 1905 and 1908.
It is believed Langdon named Tresillian after the village near Truro in Cornwall from where his family had originated and the house bears witness to his timber craft and joinery expertise with its exceptionally fine cedar joinery.
The society's first family care centre, or 'Infant Welfare Training School' opened in Tresillian in 1921. The house retained its nameplate and from this, the society acquired its more popular name and its centres became more widely known as Tresillian Family Care Centres. (The original nameplate is now held by the society at its new facility at Canterbury Hospital) While frequently refered to as a hospital, Tresillian was not a hospital in the conventional sense. It did not offer medical treatment; instead it offered rest and relaxation for both mothers and babies and advice on caring for young children. In the late 1920s a sun room was added to the rear of the main building.
As the demand for services grew, Tresillian expanded its services and opened more centres: Willoughbyy (19270, Greycliffe House in Vaucluse (1936, closed 1969), Carpenter House in Wollstonecraft (1940, now known as Tresillian Day Stay), Guthrie Child Care Centre (1981), Wentworth (1992) and in 1992 a distance education program was established. In the late 1930s the Federation cottage on the site underwent extensive alterations and after the Second World War, major additions were made to the main house costing 7,000 pounds (BA 19/45).
In 1951 minor additions costing 900 pounds were approved and designed by architects, Stafford, Moor and Farrington. In 1973 extra land at the rear of the site was purchased. In 1975 further additions by Stafford, Moor and Farrington were approved, consisting of two single storey accomodation buildings. The cost of the works was $250,000 and comprised 11 rooms for mothers, one family room and four nurseries. The additions were named after Dr Kathleen Winning, a former Director of Nursing. The main house and the additional rooms were connected via covered walkways. Also in 1975 an underground tank was installed in the courtyard to store fuel for hot water etc. The use of this fuel tank was discontinued in the mid 1980s and is now filled with sand. In 1991 approval was given for Solar Pergola North Ryde Pty Ltd to erect a covered pergola.
At full capacity, Tresillian at Petersham provided 70 rooms with accomodation similar to that of a comfortable guest or boarding house. In 1998 the Tresillian Centre Shaw Street, Petersham closed and its services relocated to a new purpose built facility at Canterbury Hospital. The property was sold to its present owner for $1.325 million. In late 1998 the proposal to develop Tresillian as a guest house was deferred by Marrickville Council after objections were raised by local residents.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Convict-Activities relating to incarceration, transport, reform, accommodation and working during the convict period in NSW (1788-1850) - does not include activities associated with the conviction of persons in NSW that are unrelated to the imperial 'convict system': use the theme of Law & Order for such activities (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Health-Activities associated with preparing and providing medical assistance and/or promoting or maintaining the well being of humans (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Industry-Activities associated with the manufacture, production and distribution of goods (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Technology-Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements (none)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal (none)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Tresillian is of historical significance due to its historical association with Frederick Langdon, alderman and mayor on Petersham Council.,and as one of the grand residences of the wealthy in this location from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. . Tresillian is the earliest and one of the most substantially developed of the Tresillian homes, an important movement for mothers and babies in New South Wales from 1920 to the present. The movement's name is taken from this house - Tresillian.
Tresillian is of historical significance due to its historical association with Frederick Langdon, alderman and mayor on Petersham Council.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The original house, Tresillian, is of aesthetic significance as a fine, substantial Federation Queen Anne style mansion built for the locally important Frederick Langdon, joiner, who later became politically active and served as mayor of Petersham between 1905 and 1908. The exterior and internal joinery is especially fine.
The circa 1920s nurse's quarters to the west of the house also have some aesthetic significance. The garden and the prominent corner site have aesthetic significance.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Tresillian movement is of national significance, and as this house is the earliest Tresillian establishment, after which the movement was named, it is considered that Tresillian has national social significance for past and present generations of families which accessed Tresillian services, particularly at this site. This significance would be further explored via oral history research.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The house is rare as a location where an important movement promoting the health of mothers and babies began in Australia.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The house is a fine representative Federation Queen Anne style mansion.
Integrity/Intactness: The main house appears to be substantially intact, aside from cement rendering including the interior, though extended at various times. The 1920s nurses quarters to the west of the house appear reasonably intact. The garden setting retains some significant plantings. Other later buildings on the site are not considered significant.
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:

The buildings shall be retained and conserved, other than those assessed to be of low significance. A Conservation Management Plan is recommended to accompany any development application for major works to the site or the buildings on the site. There shall be no alterations to the main façades of the main house Tresillian or the c. 1920s nurses quarters on the site, other than repairs or reinstatement of original features, other than to those buildings assessed as being of low significance (such as c. 1970s buidlings and later extensions). The principal room layout and planning configuration as well as significant internal original features including ceilings, cornices, joinery, flooring and fireplaces should be retained and conserved, to the significant buildings (principally Tresillian House and the c. 1920s nurses quarters). . Any additions and alterations to significant buidlings on the site should be confined to the rear in areas of less significance, should not be visually prominent or overwhelm the existing significant buildings, and shall be in accordance with the relevant planning controls. The garden setting of the property should be further researched to identify signficiant plantings and it is recommended that the extensive record of historical photographs be utilised to restore now missing landscape elements. It is strongly recommended that the social significance of the property should be further explored through oral history research of the Tresillian movement.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanMarrickville LEP 2011I21812 Dec 11 2011/645 
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Review of Potential Heritage Items for Marrickville Council2009 Paul Davies Pty Ltd  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Graphic 1891Metropolitan Detail Series Plans; MSer4 811.17/1- Camperdown Sec. 9 (1891)
Graphic 1854ZM4 811.1824/1854/2
Graphic 1843Subdivision Plans- Newtown N6/136
WrittenCashman, R. & Meader, C.1990Marrickville: Rural Outpost to Inner City. Hale & Iremonger.
WrittenClive Lucas, Stapleton and Partners Pty Ltd2001(Former) Tresillian Hospital Site, 2-4 Shaw Street, Petersham, Proposed changed of use, Statement of Heritage Impact
WrittenMeader, C., Cashman, R. & Carolan, A.1994Marrickville: People and Places

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: 2030409


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