Boronia, former house, now restaurant | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Boronia, former house, now restaurant

Item details

Name of item: Boronia, former house, now restaurant
Type of item: Built
Primary address: 624 Military Road, Mosman, NSW 2088
Parish: Willoughby
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Mosman


Property boundary
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
624 Military RoadMosmanMosmanWilloughbyCumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

'Boronia' is an excellent example of a substantial villa in the Victorian Filigree style on a site of ample frontage. The handsome symmetry of the house is complemented by the open garden and the stone and iron front fence. The building and its setting are in excellent condition.

Boronia has local significance as a landmark building set within a large and well-landscaped garden on Military Road, and as it is a fine example of a late Victorian villa. The place is significant as an example of the second phase of Victorian development that took place along the Mosman ridge, which was characterised by affluent and successful business people purchasing large allotments along newly opened roads, and constructing grand residences away from the Sydney CBD. Due to the long term ownership of the place by the Godwin family, followed by the Council and the resulting lack of development, the place is
significant for its ability to reveal the original 1855 Crown Grant to Vinzenz Zahel and subsequent purchase and subdivision by John and James Kearey in 1885.

The place is significant for its association with Zahel, the Kearey brothers, and the Godwin family, who were prominent people in the Mosman area. The place has some significance for the attributed associations with prominent architects Sheerin & Hennessy, although this is not confirmed, and Richard Hayes Harnett, a wealthy land owner and speculator in Mosman. The
site contains a plaque and commemorative Magnolia Soulangiana that was planted in memory of Nella Mary Kelly, a founding member of the Sydney Harbour and Pacific Garden Clubs. Although altered, the Victorian character of the building is largely intact especially externally, evident in the formal symmetrical composition of the building, the expressed entry, slate roof, prominent front door and highlights with coloured glass, timber French doors, and, the cast iron columns and verandah decoration. The garden setting of the building and the stone and cast iron front fence, are complementary to the aesthetic significance of the building, and the carriage loop is a locally rare remnant of a Victorian custom. The construction of Boronia as a pair with Telopea is also rare for Victorian villa development.
Boronia is locally significant for its use as the Mosman Library from 1952 to 1979, and is significant for its association with the Mosman Library and Council Staff who in 1945 were the first local council in NSW to adopt the new Library Act and the second council to provide a free community library service. The purchase of the place by Council is also significant as a heritage building with an intended public use as a cultural building and public gardens close to public transport and the Spit Junction Town Centre.

Boronia is held in high esteem by the Mosman community and has local significance for its strong social associations with Community groups who have continued to advocate the
conservation and retention of the place for public use. The activism has been a catalyst for other community action in the area and other places. The use of the place is significant as a public building and park which has been the site of many community celebrations and events which mark the phases of life.

Due to public access, the place has some technical significance for potential interpretation and education about the historical context of the building, construction methods, style and design of the place.

Though individual aspects of Boronia’s significance are at a local level the wide range of values, particularly its social significance, leads to it being assessed overall as being of state significance.
Date significance updated: 17 Dec 08
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.


Designer/Maker: Sheerin & Hennessy (1885). Clive Lucas & Partners (1985 restoration)
Builder/Maker: Not known
Physical description: Victorian Filigree. 'Boronia' is a two-storeyed brick house with walls stuccoed and lined externally to simulate ashlar. Its main roof is hipped and slated and the verandah roof is corrugated metal painted in wide stripes. The double-storey verandah is an ensemble of cast iron columns, friezes, brackets and balustrades, emphasised at the centre by a gable. The iron balustrading pattern was registered as NSW design No. 90 in 1881 by Fletcher, Bennett & Frew, Sydney ironfounders. The front boundary is marked by an unusual assemblage of stone fence, cast iron fencing and impressive gates. Some original elements survive internally.
Modifications and dates: Sympathetic Minor Alteration Major Alteration.


Historical notes: 'Boronia' is one of two almost-identical neighbouring freestanding houses built in 1885 by two Newtown carriage builders, James and John Keary, as residences for themselves with a common garden and entrance. The other residence was 'Telopea', at 89B Cowles Road, which is now altered and built out by later development including a service station. Both houses are attributed to the well-known and prolific Sydney architectural firm of Sheerin & Hennessy. The 1890's depression hit the Keary business so badly that all their assets had to be sold including 'Boronia'. The house faces south, addressing Military Road, from which it is set well back in an open garden behind a stone fence capped with iron cresting. A substantial two-storey wing was added at the north-east corner, probably in the late 1890's and soon afterwards a glazed bay with Art Nouveau detailing was added to the drawing room in this wing. The building remained virtually unaltered until it was acquired by Mosman Council in 1952, at which time it was considerably modified for occupation by the Mosman Municipal Library. Between 1978 and 1985 the building was used as offices and further altered. During 1985 'Boronia' was restored, reconstructed and adapted for use as a restaurant and function centre.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria f)
This item is historically rare regionally.
SHR Criteria g)
This item is socially representative locally.
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.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanBoronia, former house, now restaurant 09 Dec 11 41 
Local Environmental Plan - Lapsed G&M   
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Pittwater Road Review2001 Kim Ketelby  Yes
 0288 RI/CHP/CK No
Boronia and Surrounds Mosman Conservation Management Plan (Vol. 1-3)2007 Otto Cserhalmi & Partners  Yes

References, internet links & images


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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2060288
File number: 288

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