Elizabeth Bay House

Museums Elizabeth Bay
Elizabeth Bay House

No expense was spared on this handsome Greek Revival villa, designed by John Verge for NSW colonial secretary Alexander Macleay in 1839: it boasted the first two flushing toilets in the country, the finest staircase in Australian colonial architecture, and breathtaking views of Elizabeth Bay and the harbour. But Macleay’s extravagance proved fatal, and his debt-ridden family were forced to move out. Over the years the grand old house was vandalised, partly demolished and finally divided into 15 studio flats, garrets for the artists who flocked to Kings Cross. From 1928 until 1935 it acted as a kind of cheap boarding house for the Sydney ‘Charm School’ artists, who included Wallace Thornton, Rex Julius and Donald Friend. The gardens, on which Macleay lavished so much love, have long since gone to property developers, but the beautiful house (now run by the Historic Houses Trust) still breathes noblesse, wealth and good taste. Rooms are furnished as they would have been in its heyday, 1839-45. CityRail Kings Cross/bus 311, 312.


Venue name: Elizabeth Bay House
Address: 7 Onslow Avenue
Elizabeth Bay
Opening hours: Daily 9.30am-4pm
Price: $8-$12
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