Ocean View | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

About us

Ocean View

Item details

Name of item: Ocean View
Other name/s: Edwardian style mansion.
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Mansion
Primary address: 370 Alison Road, Coogee, NSW 2034
Local govt. area: Randwick
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
370 Alison RoadCoogeeRandwick  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Ocean View was constructed in 1916 as the family home of Phillip Wirth, the famous circus proprietor. The building has historical significance for its association with the renowned Wirth Bros. Circus which was active from 1890-1963. The sporadic use of the site to house exotic animals, notably elephants, enhances the association of the property with the circus. The house remained in continuous ownership of the Wirth family form its construction in 1916 until the death of Marizles Wirth in 2007.
Ocean View is demonstrative of the population boom and the establishment of substantial middle class estates in Randwick from the early twentieth century. The building was identified in the Randwick Heritage Study 1987 as one of the best surviving mansions in the municipality.
Ocean View is a substantial , picturesque and highly intact example of the residential works of Ernest Lindsay Thompson, a prolific and well known Sydney architect, executed in the Federation Free Style, a style more commonly seen in commercial rather than residential buildings. Due to its scale, setting and prominent siting on the crest of the hill overlooking the ocean, the building has aesthetic significance for its landmark qualities, and is highly visible across the district. The expansive views of the ocean extending to Waverly cemetery to the southern headland of Coogee N=Bay gave the property its name and contribute to its significance.
The building has rarity significance for the planning of the house at a grand scale, with five ensuites, was unusual at the time and reflects the success of the circus and the aspirations of the family in the early twentieth century, and the desire for all comforts in contrast with life on the road. The house is one of the largest of the late Federation and early Interwar mansions in the Randwick area, and is highly intact for a house of this period. The long occupation of the house by the Wirth family has resulted in a rare and extraordinarily high level of integrity.
Ocean View is well known within the local community, for its occupation by the Wirth family from 1916-2007 and exotic circus animals prior to 1960, and because of its high visibility. The Wirth family, by virtue of their longstanding circus fame, were renowned members of the Randwick Local Government Area and were known state side, nationally and internationally. Wirth's Circus disbanded in 1963 and the community landmark status of the house associated with the circus use has diminished particularly with the death of Marizles Wirth in 2007.
Date significance updated: 05 May 20
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: Ernest Lindsay Thompson
Construction years: 1916-
Physical description: Exterior:
370 Alison Road is a loosely-based example of the Federation Free style of architecture. It is a two storey brick and timber residence with continuous verandahs to three sides- south (street frontage), east and west. The rooftop features an observation tower, providing the house with a marine architectural idiom. Early photographs indicate a flagpole also featured on the rooftop. The original balustrading to the roof deck has been removed.
The house is built on sandstone foundations and features timber balustrading, posts and decorative brackets to verandahs. The top verandah has timber decking and lings to eaves soffit.
The entrance façade (south) features seven bays, the central bay is surmounted by a gable. The front door of the house is approached through a semi-circular brick archway which features a rendered keystone and brick voussoir pattern. The arch is flanked by two brick piers. . The name 'Ocean View' features in mosaic tiling to the entry.
The east façade is noted on the drawing as 'front elevation'. It has five bays, the central bay also featuring a gabled pediment. The north façade also features five bays and gabled pediment which terminates the verandah. The single storey servants wing has a roof terrace. The south eastern and north eastern corners of the building feature bay windows on both levels, with casement and fixed windows set in timber frames.
Neighbouring the site to north is a vacant lot, then a 1960s apartment building known as 'Wirth Court'. Both of these lots were subdivided from the original 1916 Wirth Estate, but remained in the ownership of the family at least until the death of Marizles Wirth in 2007.
The planning is on a grand scale. There are four bedrooms on the upper level on one at the ground level, and each bedroom has its own large ensuite. Each bedroom also has its own fireplace. The main bedroom has a sitting room. The living areas on the lower level remain largely intact and feature original timber joinery. The bathrooms featured original decorative floor and wall tiling.

Huge Edwardian style mansion. Two storeys. Symmetrical with verandah and balcony wrapping around both sides. Decoration limited. Features of note include bay windows on South East corner, large arched entry to verandah with gablet above (over balcony). Large timber posts with simple brackets and balustrading. Also has brick piers for support. Balcony has flat roof. Single storey central tower, square shaped. Good stone fence.


Historical notes: The site is part of a one acre parcel of land granted to Peter Herdman in 1911. In 1916 Phillip Wirth purchased and consolidated land fronting Alison Road and Arden Streets. Plans for the house were prepared by architect Ernest Lindsay Thompson in 1916, and the house was built in the same year.
Phillip Wirth lived at 'Ocean View' with his second wife Alice Maud (nee Willis) and their seven children. The Wirth property provided a wealth of stories for the local community, at times housing animals of the circus. The history prepared in 1982 by the Randwick and District Historical Society in conjunction with Marizles Wirth, states that the grounds once housed a private zoo, and the Wirth family often kept elephants and chimpanzees in the garden. In the 1920s it was common to see elephants exercising along Beach Street in the early morning. The most famous of the Wirth elephants was named 'Alice'.
Phillip Wirth Senior passed away in 1937 at his home in Coogee. After his death, Alice Wirth and her children carried on the circus with daughter Doris Wirth as managing director. In 1963, the circus was wound up and the entire circus collection was returned to Coogee and stored in the cellar. . Following Marizles death in 2007, a selection of items form the estate were donated to the Powerhouse Museum, and the remainder of the estate including antique and period furniture was removed from 'Ocean View'.

Phillip Wirth of the famous Wirth’s Circus family built this home in 1916. Before its spacious grounds were reduced by subdivision some circus animals were kept on the property. The well maintained home is still owned by a member of the Wirth family.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanRandwick Local Environmental Plan 1998 - Sch32026 Jun 98 975004
Local Environmental PlanRandwick Local Environmental Plan 2012i3815 Feb 13   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Management PlanArchitectural Projects2016Conservation Plan , Ocean View, 370 Alison Road, Coogee
Management PlanArchitectural Projects2016Conservation Management Plan, Ocean View, 370 Alison Road, Coogee

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

rez rez
(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2310020

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.