Eaglemont’s pioneering Chadwick House has hit the market, following a three-decade labour-of-love restoration by its owners.
Influential architect Harold Desbrowe-Annear designed the ahead-of-its-time residence at 32-34 The Eyrie in 1904 for his father-in-law James Chadwick.
The Heritage Council of Victoria describes Desbrowe-Annear as “instrumental in introducing the open-plan form into Australian domestic architecture”, with the house and two neighbouring abodes named Annear and Officer early reflections of his modernist innovation.
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A heritage plaque on Chadwick House’s lush 1458sq m landholding states it “incorporates medieval-inspired Arts and Crafts elements with modernist ideas such as open planning”.
Architect Peter Crone and his wife Jane bought the Heritage Victoria- and National Trust of Australia-listed pad about 30 years ago and have been restoring and enhancing it ever since.
They’ve now listed the property with a $3.15-$3.35 million price guide — to move next door and renovate another house in the Desbrowe-Annear trio.
Mr Crone said it had been a thrill to own one of Australia’s most significant 20th century homes, which he first learned of while studying architecture as “one of the first, if not the first so-called modern houses in the country”.
His painstaking renovation — stage one of which won the prestigious John George Knight Award for Heritage Architecture in 2008 — involved stripping back any unsympathetic additions to the house and restoring or replacing original features.
“I reinstated about 19 original windows that had all been changed,” he said.
“And the main sitting room, the largest room in the house, had all its Californian redwood panelling (and) an original fireplace taken out. It took about a year to redo the whole room.”
Mr Crone had limited information about the original state of the residence and had to “crawl in the roof and under the house” to determine its design roots.
He’d loved the home’s “magic site” atop a sloping hillside, offering views over the treetops towards the Dandenongs.
He will continue to enjoy the surrounds from Desbrowe-Annear’s own house next door, where his mother-in-law had lived until her recent death, and which he and Jane have now turned their attentions to.
Miles Real Estate director Stewart Oldmeadow dubbed the house in a tightly held pocket of Melbourne a “living antique” that was “so far ahead of its time, with the open-planned nature of the home”.
The Crones had not only returned the house to its original glory, but added modern comforts including two renovated bathrooms and ducted airconditioning to make it a “turnkey proposition”, he said.
The home’s two storeys also feature four bedrooms, a stately dining room plus a “breakfast room”, a gourmet stainless-steel kitchen, cellar, two verandas, open fireplaces, Jarrah flooring and a double garage topped by an alfresco deck.
The property’s expressions of interest campaign closes April 16, with inspections by appointment only.