Heritage is about the things from the past which
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Houses 257 and 259 Adelaide Terrace

Although separate and quite distinct buildings, former residences at 257 and 259 Adelaide Terrace share similar characteristics and histories which unites them as a unique pair of houses in the heart of the city.  Both are substantial two storey masonry and iron Victorian houses dating from the pre-Gold Boom era that present two well resolved examples of the Victorian Italianate architectural style.  Similarly too, both houses have undergone extensive alterations that were typical of changes that occurred to other grand residences on Adelaide Terrace when many of them were converted into flats or commercial premises, and are now the only two-storey 1880s original residences to survive on the south side of Adelaide Terrace. 

By the early 1870s, a number of leading citizens and their families had their residences in Adelaide Terrace which became an affluent and highly prized residential street in the city where “big houses” were being built by “big men”.  Not only this, the properties on the south side of both Adelaide and St Georges Terrace extended down to the Swan River, and each residence had its own jetty and boat. 

The construction of 257 & 259 Adelaide Terrace coincided with the first gold discoveries in the Swan River Colony in the 1880s which led to a renewed optimism for its future with great wealth forthcoming.   This continued through up until World War One, after which flats started to appear in Perth, mostly created from the adaptation and dividing up of large houses owned by some of Perth’s more wealthy residents such as those on Adelaide Terrace to meet the growing post-war demand for accommodation for singles and young couples living and working in the inner city area. The domination today of the surrounding late twentieth century high rise buildings against old residence such as these, are a reminder of how much this part of the terrace has changed.   

257 Adelaide Terrace was built as the family residence of successful colonial merchant Ernest Chawner Shenton.  It was designed by Melbourne architectural practice, Terry & Oakden, and completed in 1888.  Named ‘Sydenham’ the Shentons lived there with their five children.  In 1905, it was sold to another well-known Perth family, the Hayes who re-named it ‘Kincora’.  The Hayes also lived an opulent and gracious life style at ‘Kincora’ where they raised their four children and housed several servants.  Their daughter, Sheila (later Gwynne) would go on to establish an outstanding career as an expert horse breeder, including breeding a Perth Cup winner, and made a significant contribution to the Western Australian horse-racing industry.  In the 1930s, the remaining sisters Eileen and Mary converted it into flats the sold it in 1955 when it was converted into commercial premise for the Motor Vehicle Insurance Trust and the Rural & Industries Bank of Western Australia.  In September 2003, the place was sold at auction for a major redevelopment but then quickly sold again to a private owner who had planned to live there but it has been vacant ever since.  

In 1886, the house at 259 Adelaide Terrace was built for its owner Stephen Stanley Parker, a successful and well known Swan River colonist as the family home for Parker, his wife Elizabeth (Bessie), their daughters, Sarah and Louisa Parker, and Phyllis their domestic servant.  The house, which Parker named ‘Lyminge’ was designed as a substantial brick residence with a distinctive bay window at the front and verandahs at the rear.  Although Parker had died in 1904, members of the family continued to live there for 47 years before selling it in 1934 to another well-known Perth family, Senator Edward Bertram (Bertie) Johnston – hence its name E. B. Johnston House – and his wife, Hildelith Olymphe Johnston.   

Johnston was a successful or rather enthusiastic politician and business man.  However, his career was to take a turbulent turn resulting in Johnston likely taking his own life drowning.  However, bankruptcy proceedings against his Estate were avoided which meant that Hildelith, who remarried, and her three daughters could remain there, and continue to make improvements to the house and regularly host social events.  In early 2000s, it was leased to The Australian College of English but still remains in the ownership of the H. O. Johnston Estate, with the name E. B. Johnston House still at the front entry.  

Detailed Description

Although separate and quite distinct buildings, former residences at 257 and 259 Adelaide Terrace share similar characteristics and histories which unites them as a unique pair of houses in the heart of the city.  Both are substantial two storey masonry and iron Victorian houses dating from the pre-Gold Boom era that present two well resolved examples of the Victorian Italianate architectural style.  Similarly too, both houses have undergone extensive alterations that were typical of changes that occurred to other Victorian and Federation era residences on Adelaide Terrace when the environment and culture of this part of the city started to change and are now the only two-storey 1880s original residences to survive on the south side of Adelaide Terrace. 

By the early 1870s, a number of leading citizens and their families had their residences in Adelaide Terrace such as Fraser, Roe, Burt, Glyde, Cornish, Waylen and Armstrong.   Adelaide Terrace was an affluent residential street in the city where “big houses” were being built by “big men” who were well established in the colony and prominent in colonial society with the standard of residences indicative of the standard of building and accommodation to which members of the Colony’s elite aspired in the 1880s and early to mid-1890s, when this area of Perth was most highly prized.  Not only this, the properties on the south side of both Adelaide and St Georges Terrace extended down to the Swan River, and each residence had its own jetty and boat. 

Although the lots for 257 & 259 Adelaide Terrace were still vacant until the late 1880s, their construction coincided with the first gold discoveries in the Swan River Colony in the 1880s which led to a renewed optimism for its future that was certainly not felt only a decade before when the weight of the lack of gold finds was keenly felt in Western Australia as compared to the thriving Eastern colonies.  

The Federation period through to World War One still saw Adelaide Terrace as a premium residential area for large single family houses of the well-to-do.  However, after this period its prominence slowly declined.  From the 1930s, the demand for accommodation for singles and young couples living and working in the inner city area saw flats starting to appear in Perth.  However, these flats were mainly created from the adaptation and dividing up of large houses owned by some of Perth’s more wealthy residents such as those on Adelaide Terrace and Mount Street.  Unfortunately the conversions of the old houses in particular were not always ideal nor properly regulated, with by-laws regarding fire escapes, water closets, kitchens and ventilation often being breached creating, in some situation,s slum conditions.   

The domination of the surrounding late twentieth century high rise buildings are a reminder of the former residential character of the nineteenth century city of Perth when many of Perth’s wealthy people established their city homes east of the city centre and created a long street of elegant houses from Victoria Avenue down to Plain Street. They 

257 Adelaide Terrace was built as the family residence of successful colonial merchant Ernest Chawner Shenton.  When Shenton purchased Lot S6 it extended from Adelaide Terrace right down to the original shore line south which, after reclamation, would be the future location of Terrace Road.  The two storey residence, designed in the Victorian Italianate style by Melbourne architectural practice, Terry & Oakden, was completed in 1888 with the original address 12 Adelaide Terrace.  It was a two storey brick dwelling, originally tuckpointed face brick, with a verandah balcony at the front providing an entry porch, another balcony to the rear, a cellar and several timber outbuildings.  

The residence was named ‘Sydenham’, after the original home town of his wife Ada’s father, in Kent, England.  When the Shentons moved in they already had a son, Ernest with four more children born while living there.  

In 1898, the Shentons moved to new home in South Perth and leased the residence to William and Elizabeth Gray.  By 1901, the street number had been changed to no. 325 Adelaide Terrace.  In 1905, the Shentons sold ‘Sydenham’ to another prominent Perth family, the Hayes.  Mrs Monica Hayes was the daughter of Daniel Connor who became one of the wealthiest men in Perth.  Edward Joseph Hayes was a successful produce merchant, politician and connected to other businesses and charities.   

The Hayes re-named the residence ‘Kincora’ after a place in Ireland.  The lived an opulent and gracious life style at Kincora where they raised their son, Edward Daniel, and their three daughters Sheila, Eileen and Mary, and employed several servants to undertake the many domestic chores associated with running a substantial household.  From an early age daughter Sheila developed a keen interest in and competency with, horses, and the Hayes had stables at ‘Kincora’ for her horse. 

After Edward Hayes’ death in 1929, Monica continued to live at ‘Kincora’ although eventually transferring ownership to her daughters, Eileen and Sheila.  In 1937 Sheila married George Gwynne, a solicitor and successful amateur horse rider, and the young married couple moved from ‘Kincora’ to Parliament Place, West Perth.  Sheila would go on to establish an outstanding career as an expert horse breeder, including breeding a Perth Cup winner, and made a significant contribution to the Western Australian horse-racing industry.  Eileen and Mary continued to live at ‘Kincora’ and in 1938 had the residence converted into two flats, the plans prepared by well-known architect R. Summerhayes.   

After 50 years, the Hayes’ family home finally changed ownership when it was sold in 1955, a time which also signalled the end of it being a family residence.  It was converted into a commercial premise, first by the Motor Vehicle Insurance Trust then later owned by the Rural & Industries Bank of Western Australia.  Many changes were made to the place, particularly to the ground floor, and original eastern entrance was lost and considerable alterations carried out to the eastern and western elevations.  In September 2003, the place was sold at auction for a major redevelopment but then quickly sold again to a private owner who had planned to live there but it has been vacant ever since.  

 

In 1886, the house at 259 Adelaide Terrace was built for its owner Stephen Stanley Parker, a successful and well known Swan River colonist.  The house, which Parker named ‘Lyminge’ after a town in Kent, England, was designed as a substantial brick residence with a distinctive bay window at the front and verandahs at the rear. 

The premium residence became the family home for Parker, his wife Elizabeth (Bessie), their daughters, Sarah and Louisa Parker, and Phyllis their domestic servant.  Parker’s grown up son lived next door in his own house at no. 329. Originally no. 6, by 1901 all the street numbers in Adelaide Terrace had been changed, and the residence was renumbered 325 and then changed again in 1908 to 259 Adelaide Terrace. 

Although Parker had died in 1904, members of the family continued to live there for 47 years before selling it in 1934 to another well-known Perth family, Senator Edward Bertram (Bertie) Johnston – hence its name E. B. Johnston House – and his wife, Hildelith Olymphe Johnston.   

Johnston was the first Labour member for the Great Southern and gained a reputation for successfully lobbying for local railways with hotel properties located just beside them.  However, his parliamentary career and his business investments were both turbulent, leading Johnston grow increasingly paranoid believing he was being followed and could hear voices.  He left Perth for Melbourne where his brother lived, and in 1942, Johnston was found drowned at Black Rock, Melbourne, believed to be a suicide.  Bankruptcy proceedings against his Estate were avoided which meant that Hildelith and her three daughters could continue to live at 259 Adelaide Terrace. 

When Hildelith married her second husband, George Elliot, in 1944, they too lived at the residence.  The timber porch, designed by renowned Western Australian architect Marshall Clifton, was added in 1945 and in 1954, a new front balcony was built at the first floor, forming a formal entry at the ground floor.  The Elliots often entertained, utilising the large room at the right of the main entry or the balcony. 

In 1962, the place was transferred into the name of H. O. Johnston Estates Pty Limited and leased out for commercial purposes.  In 1977, 259 Adelaide Terrace was assessed by National Trust of Australia (WA), and regarded as possibly the only dwelling remaining from the substantial homes built in Adelaide Terrace at the period 

In 1984, the Durack Centre was built at the rear but the original residence was left.  In early 2000s, it was leased to The Australian College of English but still remains in the ownership of the H. O. Johnston Estate, with the name E. B. Johnston House still at the front entry.  

 

Wise’s Post Office Directory 

Building Licence Applications, City of Perth, Vol. 14, 1 June 1945

Location