Ben Ledi - house and grounds | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Ben Ledi - house and grounds

Item details

Name of item: Ben Ledi - house and grounds
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Bungalow
Primary address: 1A Bellevue Park Road, Bellevue Hill, NSW 2023
Local govt. area: Woollahra
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
1A Bellevue Park RoadBellevue HillWoollahra  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The residence at 1A Bellevue Park Road is a rare intact good representative example of the Federation Bungalow style applied to a cottage in a park estate development, a form of early 20th century town planning closely associated with the Bungalow style. The house represents the third layer of development of the Bellevue Hill Estate following the lookout/park phase and the freestanding villa period.

The residence at 1A Bellevue Park Road is one of a group of related elements that contribute to the aesthetic qualities of Bellevue Park Road leading to Bellevue Hill Park, an historically significant park. The front setting and setback of the residence contributes directly to the setting of St Stephens Church, a significant inter-war period church designed by Burcham Clamp.
Date significance updated: 05 May 06
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: Unknown
Builder/Maker: John Gilmour
Physical description: The residence is adjacent to St Stephens Church, but separated by a sandstone retaining wall and steep driveway which leads down to the rectory and a pre-school building. The front boundary fence is an early timber picket fence with gates to each of the two entrances. Tall shrubs and trees effectively screen the residence from the street and the church. The building sits on a relatively flat plateau site which falls steeply at the rear and is heavily planted out with bamboo and two semi-mature trees.
The house is a single storey Federation Bungalow style cottage with face brick walls and a hipped and gabled roof with slate tiles and terracotta ridge tiles. There are gabled projections to the front and to the east and a return veranda to the north-east. Both gables feature timber shingles and simple timber barge boards. There are two face brick chimneys to the main roof, which have recessed brick side panels and corbelled tops.

The house was subdivided into two flats down the central hallway circa 1921 with each flat accessed from the front verandah, which has been subdivided by a timber multi-paned coloured glazed partition. The gabled living rooms have central window openings with three casement windows featuring multi-paned coloured glass and similar coloured glazed fanlights over. Timber shingled window awnings are supported on decorative timber brackets. All other main windows are timber framed two-paned double hung sash windows.

A small kitchen/dining area extension dating form the 1920s, accessed through the former rear door, is partially housed under the original rear verandah.

[Abbreviated from Graham, R, Demolition report and assessment of heritage impact 1A Bellevue Park Road, Bellevue Hill p12-5]
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Deterioration of fabric is detailed in the Graham report and accompanying engineer’s report. Subsidence appears to be the main cause of fabric deterioration and a common aspect of a residence constructed on the deep sand strata of Bellevue Hill. Insect attack is identified, but with the exception of skirting to one internal room, not assessed as to occur in core areas of the residence or later makeshift additions. It is noted that where timber details are evident externally, preventative measures can generally be introduced without great difficulty.

The existing fabric retains the external form and decorative detailing of an early 20th century Federation Bungalow style residence. Reported internal subdivision has not been assessed as having significant impact upon the external appearance of the residence to the street. Rear additions of a largely ephemeral nature are considered capable of removal without impact upon the core form and style of the building.

The building gains added visual impact by virtue of its setback from the street and capacity for partial screening by landscaping which furthers the 'Bungalow Aesthetic' defining the building’s style. Removal of substantial rear portions of the site have had little effect upon the visual integrity of the structure due to its elevation to the rear and prime orientation to the street. Structural damage resulting from subsidence and corrosion of untreated arch bars is in the form of cracking to brickwork joints rather than destruction of the core fabric. Whilst such would require re-pointing and in some areas relaying with new arch bars this is not uncommon to structures dating from the early 20th century.
[Abbreviated from Brady, C, 1A Bellevue Park Road, Bellevue Hill, Assessment of heritage significance, p8]
Date condition updated:01 Aug 04
Modifications and dates: 1921 - Subdivision into two flats including new entry porch and subdivision of verandah. Extension of rear verandah.
C 1960 - Separation from school building at rear by new retaining walls to west and rear.
C1970 - Deck at rear over basement laundry.
Further information: Streetscape assessment

Bellevue Park Road has formed an integral element to the Bellevue Hill Park at its eastern termination from the 1820's. The avenue planting, remnant Federation residences at 1A, 11&15 Bellevue Park Road and the alignment of the 1920's buildings within Bellevue Hill Public School recognise the earlier pattern of the Bellevue Park Estate development and the function of the road as an approach to the park.

The streetscape incorporates these elements within a short length of carriageway terminating in the closely framed entry to the park at the eastern end and the open vista over Victoria Road to the edge of Cooper Park and the distant city view beyond. The prominent form of the Inter-war Romanesque styled St Stephen's Church further contributes to the picturesque nature of the streetscape. This in part compensates for the poor contribution of recent residential fiat buildings to the positive aspects of the streetscape.

Bellevue Park Road remains an example of a streetscape with a strong aesthetic form progressively impinged upon by speculative construction. Its core values, whilst fragmented, remain in sufficient substance to define the nature of the place. The historic road formation, the highly supportive nature of initial residential development, the consistent pattern of avenue planting and the open space provided by parks to east and west and the school grounds to the north all contribute to the quality of the location.

[Abbreviated from Brady, C, 1A Bellevue Park Road, Bellevue Hill, Assessment of heritage significance, p9]
Current use: Residence
Former use: Residence


Historical notes: Pre-European settlement
Prior to European settlement the region was home to a group of Aboriginal tribes identified as the Wangal Clan. Following European settlement in 1788, the clan progressively retreated to lands about Rushcutters Bay and then to the lagoon behind the dunes then fronting Bondi Beach.

Establishment of Bellevue Hill Park
Development of lands to the east of the Sydney Cove settlement was determined both by land grants and the construction of roads and bridle paths enabling access along the open ridge tops and down into the swampy bays of the southern harbour shores. The South Head Road leading to Watsons Bay was formed in 1811.

At the point where the South Head Road descended down a heavily timbered slope to the sand drifts of the Rose Bay/Bondi Valley a prominent lookout point was noted from which expansive views of the harbour and ocean were obtained. Initially called Vinegar Hill by convicts working on the South Head Road, the prominence was identified by Governor Lachlan Macquarie, as Belle-Vue. Sunday afternoon excursions from Sydney during the 1820's to 40's centred on the South Head Road. Coaches would either travel down the slope of the Belle-Vue Hill and on to Watsons Bay or turn about at the location of the lookout. The carriage turn circumscribed the promontory, becoming an identifiable feature of maps from the 1840' s onward. Whilst remaining part of the Cooper Estate, the lookout had by the 1850's gamed such strong public identity that a petition was raised to the then Waverley Council requesting the 2 acre promontory be declared a public park. Establishment of the park preceded residential development of the lower slopes of the ridge leading down to Point Piper.

Early history of the site
The site was originally part of 190 acres granted to John Piper in 1820. In 1826, Piper sold the estate to Daniel Cooper and Solomon Levey. Cooper gradually acquired Levey’s share and increased his estate to 1130 acres. On his death in 1853, his estate was left to his nephew Daniel Cooper, who in turn bequested it to his sons, tying the estate to a condition that it could not be sold until the sons were twenty-one years old. This provision resulted in sections of the Piper Estate being released on 99 year leases. Land release for subdivision of Bellevue Hill was slowly developed.

Establishment of residential villas.
The slopes of Bellevue Hill were promoted for villa development following the establishment and extension of the New South Head Road between 1837 and 1840. By the 1870's major residences dotted the harbour shoreline and lower slopes. Similar developments stood above the winding decent of the Old South Head Road on the slopes to the south east of Bellevue Hill. These capitalised on the views to Bondi Bay. Residences to the southern side of Bellevue Hill included F.M. McElhone's Karaweera located immediately below the later site of 1A Bellevue Park Road.

Only with improvements in transport did the impetus come for close subdivision of the leaseholds. The Sydney Tramways Act of 1888 resulted in the extension of steam and electric tram services to the outer eastern suburbs with improved connection to the city, areas of the outer east including Randwick, Bellevue Hill and Rose Bay were now desirable residential locations.
The property was sold as part of the Bellevue Park Estate subdivision in 1903.

Establishment of Park Estates.
The concept of the Park Estates was a feature of Federation residential estate development that paralleled the introduction of the Garden Suburb to Australian cities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The interrelation of semi-detached and freestanding houses to garden and park settings was quickly established in the mind of Australian property developers in the form of the Park Estate. Much of the impetus for this stemmed from debate over the form and extent of the former Sydney Common to the south of the Old South Head Road. After establishment of Centennial Park in the remaining northern section of the common in 1888, ways of financing the landscaping of the park eventually settled upon sale of lands to the outer surrounds for residential development. Mindful of the garden city movement, planners sought covenants of the subdivisions to control both the form and construction of residences within the streets facing and approaching the park.

The Bellevue Park Estate subdivision incorporating the current site of 1A Bellevue Park Road typified the form. The 1903 subdivision sales notice shows sites orientated to the approach road to Bellevue Hill Park with subdivisions to the lower slope orientated to the views across the Bondi Valley. The subdivision left the four earlier villas to the south-west, creating a second phase of residential development conceived both in terms of distant views and the relationship of residential sites to the public park.

Construction of the residence
The property (Lot 7 of the Bellevue Park Estate) was purchased in 1905 by Francis Maria Gilmour, wife of John Gilmour, carpenter. Gilmour appears to have been a builder and proprietor of a timber yard. The house, identified as Ben Ledi in the Sands Directory, was constructed in 1906. It was one of two houses in the street which increased to six by 1921. Gilmour occupied the house until 1918. Then a lease to Stanley d’Argraevel in 1919-1920, followed by internal subdivision in 1921, enabled joint occupation by d’Argaevel and Gilmour. Gilmour remained as a resident at least until the final year of the Sands Directory of 1933, and remained the owner until 1950.

In 1927 St Stephens Church was built to a design by Burcham Clamp in the Inter-war Romanesque style on the adjoining allotment and the rectory at the rear was completed by 1929. The church conducted a school at the rear of the residence in the church hall.

By the mid-1920s Bellevue Park Road had a consistently aligned row of residences east of the church. The Bellevue Hill Public School was built on the opposite of the road. The residential flats which now dominate the south western end of Victoria Road were beginning to be constructed.

The property at 1A Bellevue Park Road was purchased in 1950 by Stanford Deane, company director, and Gregory Sydney Goldie, a retired Magistrate. The property was subdivided to enable extension of the school and the residence was onsold to Agnes Ynys Ormsby. On her death in 1956, the property passed to the executrix of her will, Louise Hobbs. In 1961, the executor of Hobbs’ will, William Tatham sold the property to the Church of England Property Trust Diocese of Sydney, the current owners.
[Abbreviated from Graham, R Demolition report and assessment of heritage impact 1A Bellevue Park Road, Bellevue Hill, p6-7, Brady, C 1A Bellevue Park Road, Bellevue Hill, Assessment of heritage significance p-6]

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 - Suburban Expansion-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Creative endeavour-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The site of 1A Bellevue Park Road Bellevue Hill, has evolved from the early formation of the South Head Road in 1811, and its associated lookout point of Belle-Vue, one of Australia's earliest parks. The house represents the third layer of development of the hill. It ollows the lookout/park phase and the freestanding villa period and is a remnant of the Bellevue Hill Estate. The house is the first residential development to accommodate the visual quality of the Park and its surrounds. [From Brady p11-12]
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The site at 1A Bellevue Park Road Bellevue Hill has local association with the notable early members of colonial society including John Piper and Daniel Cooper and the early citizens of the then Municipality of Waverley. However, these associations are general and do not fulfil this criterion of significance. [From Brady p11-12]
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The site at 1A Bellevue Park Road Bellevue Hill contains a residential building demonstrating the aesthetic concerns of the Park Estate philosophy associated with the Garden City teachings of English and American designers and philanthropists of the later 19th century. It reflects the pattern of suburban development evolved from the establishment of Centennial Park in Sydney. The residence does not fulfil the aesthetic criterion as an exemplary building, rather it has the principal characteristics of this important type of building and so satisfies the criterion as a representative building. [From Brady p11-12]
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Although owned by the Anglican Church, the residence is not associated with a particular community or cultural group within Woollahra for social, cultural or spiritual reasons.
[From Brady p11-12]
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The site at 1A Bellevue Park Road Bellevue Hill demonstrates the attention to detail and quality of materials which characterised the Federation Bungalow style in Australian construction. The residence is a typical rather than a benchmark or reference site of technical and research significance.
[From Brady p11-12]
SHR Criteria f)
The building at 1A Bellevue Park Road Bellevue Hill represents a type of cottage restricted to park settings from the early 20th century and is increasingly rare due to inappropriate additions alteration and demolition. The interior of the house is intact at a level now rare in the Municipality. The item is rare in terms of its cultural value as it represents an ordinary house from the Edwardian /Federation period in an almost completely original condition.

[From Kovacs, Zoltan heritage referral response in relation to DA916/00 24. 7. 2001]
SHR Criteria g)
The building at 1A Bellevue Park Road Bellevue Hill demonstrates the principal characteristics of Federation Bungalow style architecture applied to park estate development.
[From Brady p11-12]
Integrity/Intactness: The house retains its form, scale and character evidenced by the original Federation styled materials and detailing. It has a circa 1921 skillion addition and additional bathroom at the rear. The exception is the 1920s division of the front verandah with a timber glazed partition wall and a small entry porch to the eastern flat. Internally, the house generally retains its original configuration with minor alterations to the finishes and details. [Abbreviated from Graham p29-30]
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 existing house should be retained and sympathetically restored. All new works should acknowledge the significance of the setting and the relationship of the existing house to the historic form of Bellevue Hill Park Road. New works should retain the existing open sight lines to the eastern elevation of St Stephens Church. New works should be sympathetic in form and finish and massing to the existing residence.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanWoollahra199505 May 06 55 
Local Environmental PlanWoollahra LEP 2014723 May 15   
Heritage studyTanner 01 Jan 98   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenBrady, Colin Architecture + Planning20011A Bellevue Park Road, Bellevue Hill, Assessment of heritage significance
WrittenGraham, Robin Conservation Architect2001Demolition report and assessment of heritage impact 1A Bellevue Park Road, Bellevue Hill
WrittenKovacs, Zoltan, Woollahra Council heritage officer2001Heritage referral response in relation to DA916/00
WrittenMaher, Libby Woollahra Council Strategic Heritage Officer2004Woollahra 2004 Heritage Inventory Sheet

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: 2711430

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