An unmissable showpiece within the inner eastern crown, Harcourt Street in Hawthorn East displays a sensationally rich mix of architectural styles including Victorian, Federation, Edwardian, Art Deco and contemporary, often on extensive allotments set back in deep front gardens. A playground for the legendary architect John Beswicke, who designed some dozen homes including his very own in this landmark avenue, as well as significant nearby buildings including the Hawthorn Town Hall and shops on Auburn Road, in Auburn Village. Adjoining Rathmines Road Reserve and amongst a coveted schooling district, homes in Harcourt Street are of elite standing, with the very best pushing the $20 million price point
1 Harcourt Street – ‘Talana’ c.1900
Cornering Auburn Road and situated on close to an acre, the Queen Anne Federation mansion ‘Talana’ is put simply as one of Melbourne’s true landmark homes. Built in 1900 and designed by John Beswicke, the architectural masterpiece is an incredibly unique finding of Queen Anne Federation architecture with a hint of Tudor influence. An elevated ground floor accentuates the status while triple brick walls define its unmatched nature. Featuring a third story tower, Marseille roofing and a stately return verandah all dressed in the trademark Federation colours. The home was originally built for Beswicke to move into himself, although this never eventuated. The property is protected under the Australian Heritage Register.
16 Harcourt Street – ‘Ellerslie’ c. 1891
A structure so imposingly significant on flourishing grounds, I first mistook the Gothic Victorian landmark at 16 Harcourt Street as the nearby Auburn Primary School. Another in the collection for John Beswicke, ‘Ellerslie’ standards proud in a distinct tuck-pointed brick façade that gives the impression the construction was completed a touch more recent than 120 years ago. Sitting behind a large swimming pool and open garden area with a tennis court off to the side, this extraordinary Victorian strikes a more sophisticated note internally, with significant contemporary renovations mixing with the enthralling original character.
29 Harcourt Street – ‘Rotha’ c. 1887
The king’s very own, the Queen Anne Federation landmark ‘Rotha’ was home to the Beswicke family. Like most of the properties on the north side of the street, this royal residence sits deep on the block with extensive park like gardens to the fore, now home to a tennis court. The Beswickes including John and his father Charles, occupied the residence until 1980. Stately in its double red brick and turreted façade, the home takes on a more Victorian approach internally with influence from the Arts and Craft style. Rotha is an illustration of the transition between Victorian and Edwardian times, while eminent of Beswicke’s traditional style with triple gable detail.
28 Harcourt Street – ‘Balmerino’ c. 1887
Nestled in on the corner and behind a Jack Merlo landscape, the imposing marvel known as ‘Balmerino’ adds to the legend of John Beswicke. An incredible architectural statement unique in its Italianate Victorian style with impressive archways, colonnades and with a distinct tower to steal the show. A bit of a tease from Harcourt Street, it’s not until you wander down Laurel Court you can admire the magnificent façade behind a wealth of wrought iron.
49 Harcourt Street – Symmetrical Glory c. 1920
Elevated to establish its elite standing and overlooking the park, this magnificent period residence is a celebration of period styles in a distinct symmetrical show. The unmistakable façade nods to various architectural eras with its Hawthorn style brickwork (Victorian), curved fretwork (Federation) and cream shingles (Californian Bungalow). On an immense 2,200 sqm approx. allotment of Paul Bangay designed gardens, the home is even more impressive with its 25 metre lap pool to the side and tennis court at the rear. Complete with all the contemporary refinement and extensions to cater for today. This landmark last sold in late 2010 for $7.3 million.
75 Harcourt Street – The Modern Masterpiece
A notable display of the contemporary sophistication and immense funding that fuels this precinct is found in the Nicholas Day masterpiece found at number 75. Resounding with utter opulence, this French Provincial stunner features all the works including a 6m custom front door, sweeping staircase, private lift and self-cleaning swimming pool. It was initially a weatherboard Victorian before sale ($3.836 million) and redevelopment in recent years. Currently on the market with a guide of $8.5 million-$9.2 million, 75 Harcourt Street is an example of the premier standing that high end buyers have in the street.
So, if you’re in the area, don’t miss out on the architectural exhibition that is Harcourt Street in Hawthorn East. Casually known as ‘Beswicke Street’, start on the west end and head up towards the park or start on the east end and wander down to the Auburn Hotel or village cafes. Look out for further blogs, as we unpack Melbourne’s most magnificent streetscapes.