Labassa is an outstanding Victorian era mansion with opulent architectural features.
Originally called 'Sylliott Hill', it was renamed 'Ontario' in the 1880s reflecting its new owner Alexander William Robertson's Canadian heritage.
Robertson was a founder of the Cobb and Co. coach company that successfully ran mail services throughout Victoria. He had the mansion redeveloped in the French Second Empire style by commissioning the German born architect, John A. B. Koch, to remodel the house into a thirty-five roomed mansion.
The interior features gilt embossed wallpapers, ornate stained glass and a rare trompe l'oeil ceiling.
Renamed Labassa in 1904 it was home to Melbourne's elite until 1920 when it was divided into flats. The residents included Hollywood's first Australian silent film star and other colourful bohemians. Labassa is the most lavish of the few surviving nineteenth century mansions and the magnificently restored interiors of the main rooms again impress all its visitors.
Labassa's social history
Following its heyday from 1862-1920, when the mansion was the domain of the wealthy, Labassa went into decline. Divided into flats it was home to successive residents of more modest means but not necessarily modest ambitions. Among them was Louise Lovely (1895-1980), the Australian born star of Hollywood's silent era
UNKNOWN COUPLE IN LABASSA'S GARDEN C1943
During the Second World War Labassa hosted fundraisers in aid of the Red Cross Comforts Fund. With the post-war immigration boom, it became a residence for displaced European families. Russian spies were even rumoured to have sent radio messages from the tower!
JANE CLIFTON AT LABASSA IN THE 1970S
In the 1960s and 1970s the neglected mansion was an enclave for artists and bohemians. Singer-songwriter Hans Poulsen - of "Boom Sha La La Lo"and "Rose Coloured Glasses"fame - lived in Labassa's tower with a pet crow. Comedian Jane Clifton lived upstairs in the servants' quarters in her 'long haired moon-mother has cookie baking period' of the 1970s.
❊ What's On ❊
❊ Address & Contact ❊
⊜ 2 Manor Grove, Caulfield North | Map
✆ 03 9527 6295 or 03 8663 7260
❊ Web Links ❊
❊ Also See... ❊
→ National Trust of Australia (Victoria)
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