Mena - Mansion | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Mena - Mansion

Item details

Name of item: Mena - Mansion
Other name/s: Killarney
Type of item: Conservation Area
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Location: Lat: -33.285181 Long: 149.092325
Primary address: 50 Kite Street, Orange, NSW 2800
Local govt. area: Orange
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
50 Kite StreetOrangeOrange  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

This symmetrical masonry residence with curved return verandah was built for Thomas Dalton by his father James, and is a significant example of the Irish legacy and a manifestation of their confident outlook while complementing the streetscape and contributing to the Conservation Area within the city as a heritage item.
Date significance updated: 23 Feb 12
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: Backhouse
Physical description: Wide fronted symmetrical Victorian house with smooth rendered walls and central, highly decorated porch, with three column bays each side. Powerful hipped and gablet main roof form, with sloping bullnose corrugated iron verandah roof supported on cast iron Corinthian columns, decorated with cast iron brackets and frieze. Curved, free-standing low entry walls heighten the drama of the entry through the gabled cantilevered portico, decorated with ornate timber fretwork arch, shaped brackets and finial.

Double hung sash windows to verandah, with tinted border lights.

The double entry door has leadlight windows and a top light and sidelights.

The interior features highly polished timber joinery and there are rich timber door and window cases.

House set back from street with formal front garden. Fence may not be original. Posts are new. Garden path paving and form is notable.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Integrity: good; Condition: good.
Date condition updated:10 Nov 10
Modifications and dates: Sympathetic alterations: a) Verandah enclosed at the time of the 1986 Study and this has since been removed and the open verandah restored; b) fence.
Further information: Notable features: Verandah decoration, verandah roof and structure, elaborate/high standard design of cement rendered surfaces.

Streetscape: Level 1


Historical notes: Mena, which may have been designed by architect, Benjamin Backhouse, was built in 1875 for James Dalton who had the residence constructed for his son, Thomas Gatty Dalton. James Dalton was a very prominent Orange merchant and pastoralist and townsman; he was at one time mayor of Orange and the Dalton family was one of the most influential Catholic families in New South Wales

Some of the early tree plantings in the back garden are common Poplars reaching more than 30 metres. A tortured Willow at the rear of the Stables is well over 100 years old and Robinia flank the boundaries on all sides.

Well-known Orange Business Merchant James Dalton built the house in 1875 for his eldest son Thomas. It is said that the original garden was an area of approximately 3 acres, which took in the front at Kite Street and stretching south down to Moulder Street. Today, with the adjoining homes, the garden area now occupies an area of just over half an acre.

The current owners have reshaped the front garden and many parts in the rear, adding more varieties and species overall, making the garden a finely manicured formal garden with many leafy trees acting as canopy over the property.

This elegant house was built for Thomas Dalton by his father James, and is a significant example of the Irish legacy and a manifestation of their confident outlook.

"Kite St. contains many interesting houses, of which this is the finest. It was built about 1875 by local merchant James Dalton for his son Tom and was probably designed by Benjamin Backhouse".
(Derek Woolcott, Walking Tour Leaflet).

"In 1875 James Dalton of Duntryleague built "Killarney" in Kite St. (now "Mena") for his eldest son Thomas Garret ("Gatty") Dalton and his family. "Gatty" was Mayor of Orange for three years".
(Bruce, p. 44, with photo, p. 45).

"'Mena' was originally named Killiney and was built for Thomas Garrett ("Gatty") Dalton by his father James, probably in the 1890s (1870s?). Thomas Garrett Dalton, born 1859, was educated at St. Stanislaus' College Bathurst and after graduating M.A. Sydney University appears to have worked in the family's Sydney office, Dalton House, Pitt St., until the death of his first wife, May nee Condon, in 1895. About this time he returned to Orange. His son Thomas was born 1894 in Sydney at their home 'Wheatley' and is now [1979] residing in Byng St., Orange. He lived with his grandparents at Duntryleague until "Gatty" married Mary Butler in 1897 when he came to live with his father and stepmother at Killiney.
Thomas Garrett Dalton was three times Mayor of Orange and managed the family business (Dalton Bros. Store and the two flour mills in Orange) during his lifetime. Killiney was left to his wife Mary who apparently lived there until her death, when it was sold, subsequently being re-named 'Mena" and becoming a private hospital.
The exact date of this Kite St. house of Thomas Garrett Dalton's is not known, and though it has mid-Victorian features such as cast-iron lace and plaster mouldings round the windows to match the heavy quoins at the corners of its stuccoed walls, there are other details, for example the louvered ventilation openings under the roof ridge and the small coloured panes bordering the French windows, which only became popular in the nineties. Thus it appears likely that the house was built at the time of business revival after the disastrous depression with which that decade opened, and this theory is consistent with the above family history.
The dominant false gable over the entrance, with its wooden fretwork infill and sunray pattern brackets, is very typical of Australian architecture in the closing years of Victoria's reign, as is the use of Australian flora in the cast-iron trim.
The internal joinery is of cedar and it is evident that no expense was spared in the building and fitting out of this house. It is fortunate that it has survived almost intact and now has sympathetic owners whose approach is exemplified by the appropriate new front fence.
Entry is by double doors with fine floral leadlights showing Art Nouveau influence. The colourless section in the centre of the fanlight once held the original name of the house (Killiney). Modern locks on front and back doors have been replaced by massive early ones.
The front hall is imposing with niches and pilasters at the transition to the rear section. The floral motifs are repeated in fanlights over the doors which have heavy architraves ornamented with dentils. Note coat cupboard on right with small bull's-eye window, containing a remnant of the bell system once installed throughout the house".
(National Trust notes for visit 28 October 1979).

Reference to "Killiney", Kite St., and that Dr. C.B. Howse was occupant after Mr. Gatty Dalton.
(The Leader, 4 October 1914).

Dr. C.B. Howse,(1915).
Florence Amy Hunt, nurse, (1925).

"The Observer's recent article on historic Mena attracted a response from Dubbo woman Mrs. Mena Head, who tells how Mena got its name.
The house, built in 1875 by James Dalton, was originally called Killiney.
Mrs. Head said in the 1930s Matron R. Coote owned the old St. Helen's Hospital in Anson St.
It was very old and Matron Coote had an opportunity to obtain a modern brick home in Sale St. which she thought would make a good hospital.
The initials H.M. were etched in the front plate glass door of the house as they were the initials of the previous owner.
Matron Coote thought she should utilise the initials in the name of the new hospital.
She thought about a name starting with M as the H and M were intertwined.
A junior member of her staff, named Mena, told the Matron how she had been named after Mena House in Egypt. This was a large hotel which had been converted to a military hospital in World War I.
Mrs. Head said that Matron Coote thought this was a historic and fair enough reason to call her hospital Mena.
With the baby boom after World War II, Matron Coote needed larger premises and she was able to obtain Killiney in Kite St.
[The former Sale St. premises subsequently became the second home for Wanganui Private Hospital. R.M.]
She kept the name Mena when she moved to the Kite St. premises and the house has been Mena ever since.
Mrs. Head said many young Australians had been born at Mena, including her own daughter.
She said Mena would hold happy memories for many people".
(Midstate Observer, 2 September 1987).

Lorna Dorothy Rainey,(1935).
Edward Tyson Lea, retired grazier,(1937).
Hilda May Hillary, nurse, (1937).
Ruth Adelaide Coote, nurse, (1947);
Gladys Lillian Jacobs,(1947).

"Another noted landmark, now [1946] Mena private hospital, Kite St., was always regarded as one of the best homes in my early days.
For some years it was occupied by the late Mr. and Mrs. T.G. Dalton, and their six children, after they had come from North Sydney to make their home here.
Later it was occupied by Dr. and Mrs. C.B. Howse, and finally by Mr. and Mrs. C.T. Garrett".
(Joe Glasson, CWD, 19 February 1946).

Designed when art nouveau decorating was at its peak, Mena still has its original lead windows, fireplace tiles, cedar archways and mouldings.
In the 1970s owner John Hunt did considerable work sympathetically restoring this lovely old Dalton home.
It was later (by 1979) the home of Dr. and Mrs. Lucas.
The iron front fence is a fairly recent addition.

"Gracious old home has rich history:
'Mena', one of the oldest and most gracious homes in Orange, is up for sale.
The present owner, Mr. S. Stansmore, has decided the home is far too big for him to live there alone, so it is for sale by public auction on December 12 [1969].
The big home, at 50 Kite St., is situated in what the agents describe as 'one of the choicest residential positions in Orange'.
The agents could be right, as the din of industry and rush of commerce is well away from the trees and garden frontages which mark that part of town.
The click of bowl meeting bowl on the greens at Newstead opposite is the only non-suburban sound the residents hear.
'Mena' was built by Mr. James Dalton, who founded Dalton's store (now the Western Stores) and built such well known homes as Duntryleague and Kangaroobie.
All homes built to his order bear the unmistakable hall mark of a more elegant and kinder age, such as massive tiled halls, marble fireplaces, stained glass windows and exteriors dripping with the tracery of cast iron.
Mr. Tom Dalton, who now lives in Byng St., recalls some memories of 'Mena' where he lived from the time he was a very small boy.
The home was built by his grandfather, Mr. James Dalton, for his son, also Tom. He called it 'Killiney'.
It was not until three owners later that the name was changed to 'Mena', the name it bears today.
'As a home it was a pretty big place', Mr. Dalton mused, yesterday.
'There were a lot of us, you know, and it had to be big.
'Lord alive. When I look back and see that street now. 'Killiney' went right back to Moulder St. at the back and right up the block almost to Sampson St.
'Out the back there were paddocks where we kept the horses and cows. We had a croquet lawn and a tennis court.
'We had about three acres of land or more. I'm not sure now, but I know my stepmother sold the lot for 5,000 pounds. That was after my father died. I was at the war and my stepmother went abroad.
'That big house next door where Dr. Colvin lived - Mr. Paton lives there now - was built on some of 'Killiney' land.
'And 'Newstead' opposite - that was a lovely home. Old Dr. [Mr?] Pilcher lived there... I can remember seeing him when I was a small boy.
'Yes, things have certainly changed. We always had a big staff of servants to run the place - had to', he commented.
Dr. C.B. Howse was the next owner, and Orange AMP representative Mr. Campbell Garrett bought the home from Dr. Howse.
The lovely old home was next turned into a private hospital and named 'Mena' by its new owner, Matron Coote.
Although Matron Coote lived at 'Mena' for about 17 years it was not always a hospital.
She turned the home into flats and left for Sydney where she still lives [1969] at Drummoyne.
Mr. and Mrs. S. Alder had the lease of the main flat, which contains the big reception rooms facing Kite St.
It was during the Alders' occupancy that 'Mena' once again became the setting for social functions, with the swish of silks and satins more in keeping with the home's old-world charm.
Mrs. Alder used the big rooms for receptions for weddings..."
[last column of photocopy illegible]
(CWD, 27 November 1969).

Mrs. C.B. Howse,(1932).
Norman H. Armfield,(1949).
George Randolph Robins, engineer,(1950).
Olive Fee Boates (wife of Wesley Kyle Boates, transport driver), (1951).
Sydney Marshall Stansmore, elect contr, (1959);
Vera Agnes Stansmore, (1959).
Rex Stephen Selwood, French polisher,(1959);
Patricia Clare Selwood, (1959).
Mrs. M.T. Alder, (1959).
Mrs. Patsy Langmead, ladies wear, (1969).
J.B. Hunt, (1971).
Garry Roland Lucas, med pract,(1978);
Wendy Jill Lucas, clerk, (1978);
Horace Roland Lucas, (1978);
Marion Grace Lucas, clerk, (1978).

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. Housing famous families-
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. Housing the prosperous - mansions in town and country-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
This elegant house was built for Thomas Dalton by his father James, and is a significant example of the Irish legacy and a manifestation of their confident outlook.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Mena is important also for its association with the Dalton family who played a prominent role in the Orange district and beyond
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Mena is a house of quality design, important for its technical, creative and design excellence which are seen in the distinctive, ornamented yet formally simple exterior and the rich, refined interiors.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The site is highly valued by the community with heritage listings by various agencies
SHR Criteria f)
Dalton properties are a distinctive rarity within Orange
Integrity/Intactness: Good
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:


Management CategoryDescriptionDate Updated
Statutory InstrumentList on a Local Environmental Plan (LEP)29 Sep 10
Statutory InstrumentInclude in a Conservation Area within an LEP24 Jan 11


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan  12 May 00 573927
Local Environmental PlanOrange Local Environmental Plan 2011I624 Feb 12   
Within a conservation area on an LEP     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Orange Heritage Study1985C372Hughes, Trueman, Ludlow Consultants  No
Orange community based Heritage Study 20112011 David Scobie Architects Pty Ltd  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenRoss Maroney2000Historical Society Data

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: 2220006

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