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Toldara (extant) 40 Alma Road

Toldara Toldara Vic Heritage Council

  • Date Built: 1868
  • Demolished: Extant building externally completely intact but hidden from view by surrounding flats.
  • Builder:

  • Owners and occupiers:

    Erected in 1868. Toldara was one of the first houses built on the ‘Charnwood’ estate subdivision  designed by architects, Crouch & Wilson. David Rosenthal was a jeweller and merchant (The Argus, tender notice, 5 September 1868, p.3). The house was described in the March 1870 St Kilda rate books as containing twelve rooms with a substantial N.A.V. of £250 (RB, 1870, no. in rate 342).

    David Rosenthal was one of several wealthy Jewish merchants living in St Kilda in the late nineteenth century. Another was Israel Bloomington who in 1869 commissioned the same architects to design his own house City of Port Phillip Heritage Review Citation No: 2385 Page 3 ‘Rondebosch’ in Chapel Street. Rosenthal and Bloomington were part of St Kilda’s Jewish community, which initially held services in the Wesleyan Church Hall and joined with the congregation at East Melbourne. In September 1871, Bloomington and several other prominent community members resolved to form the St Kilda Hebrew Congregation at a meeting held at ‘Rondebosch’. The new congregation held services at the St Kilda Town Hall before building their own synagogue in Charnwood Crescent, as noted above. Rosenthal lived at ‘Toldara’ until about 1875 when his name in the St Kilda Rate Book was crossed out and replaced with John Finlay.

    John Finlay renamed the house as ‘Shirley’ (RB, 1874, no. in rate 398). Finlay was a contractor who built many government roads, as well as parts of the Yan Yean water supply system, which was Melbourne’s first engineered water supply. He was also a director of the Colonial Bank, Land Mortgage Bank, the Australian Alliance Insurance Co. and a Justice of the Peace (MMD). He died at ‘Shirley’ in August 1887, but his wife remained as owner or occupant until at least 1900 (SM). The house is shown on the 1897 MMBW Plan on a large allotment behind a semi-circular carriage drive with a stables complex at the rear.

    The image at the front of this citation, taken by photographer, Colin Caldwell, dates from c.1949. MMBW Detail Plan No. 1359 (Part) dated 1897 (Source: State Library of Victoria) 

  • Architects:

    The brick mansion house was designed by architects Crouch and Wilson and erected in 1868 for David Rosenthal, jeweller and merchant.

    Architectural Style

    Classical Revival  - Colonnaded verandah of rhythmically placed Doric and Corinthian columns on the lower and upper levels respectively faces a square stucco rendered brick structure. It is an early and restrained example of the domestic work of Crouch and Wilson.

  • Description:

    Toldara’ (later ‘Shirley’) The development of St Kilda began following the first land sales in 1842 and by 1854 there were over two hundred houses. The area became a popular seaside resort after the arrival of the railway in 1857 with many of Melbourne’s wealthy citizens establishing their homes here as Melbourne grew in the wake of the gold rush. In 1861 St Kilda contained 6,000 residents and by 1881 this had doubled to 12,000.

    Land along the north side of Alma Road between St Kilda Road and Chapel Street remained largely undeveloped until the 1870s. An 1866 plan shows the western end forming part of the grounds of the ‘Charnwood’ mansion, while the eastern section appears to be an empty paddock. The building of houses commenced following the c.1868 subdivision of the ‘Charnwood’ Estate and by 1873 there were eight houses west of Crimea Street and two between Crimea and Chapel Street. Development continued apace during the boom years of the 1880s and by 1890 the north side of Alma Road was almost fully developed between St Kilda Road (then known as High Street) and Chapel Street

    One of the first houses built on the ‘Charnwood’ estate subdivision was ‘Toldara’, which was constructed in 1868-9 to a design by architects, Crouch & Wilson, for jeweller and merchant David Rosenthal (The Argus, tender notice, 5 September 1868, p.3). The house was described in the March 1870 St Kilda rate books as containing twelve rooms with a substantial N.A.V. of £250 (RB, 1870, no. in rate 342)

    Alterations and Context

    The Victorian Heritage Register severly downgrades its status due to the later changes.Statement of Significance:(Victorian Heritage Register) Classified: 'Regional' Revised: 18/08/1980 "The house, now drastically defaced and eclipsed for architectural merit by other more representative and intact mansions in the area,was the residence in the 1870's of two of Melbourne's wealthiest businessmen, David Rosenthal and John Finlay J.P. Toldara now divest of all the original and distinguishing architectural qualities save for the impressive colonnaded facade, has been totally obscured by the erection of connecting two storey flats on the front of the site. The building is of extremely low integrity and the rear wing has been demolished. 

    Current status CoPP

    David Helms for the CoPP. 2021.This mansion in the Classical Revival style, designed by Crouch & Wilson, was constructed in 1868 for David Rosenthal, jeweller and merchant. A later owner was John Finlay, J.P. Although flats have been built to the front and side, and the rear wing demolished, the remarkable façade remains almost fully intact. It is of local historic, architectural and aesthetic significance as an early mansion in St Kilda, which is notable for its finely detailed Classical Revival façade. The association with David Rosenthal, a prominent Jewish businessman is also of note and demonstrates the strong associations of the Jewish community with this area. Already included within HO6, which includes external paint controls. An individual HO is not required. Change grading from ‘Nil’ to ‘Significant’.

  • Sources:

    Primary source David Helms City of Port Phillip

    City of Port Phillip Heritage Review Citation No: 2385 Page 4

    Citation Amended CoPP C142 Information from the CoPP Historical review

    Citation  No: 2385 City of Port Phillip Heritage Review

    References Caldwell, C. (1949), 40 Alma Road, St Kilda [Vic.] [picture] / Colin Caldwell., In collection: Album of photographs depicting 19 century buildings in suburban Melbourne, Vic., State Library of Victoria collection Cooper, J.B., 1931, The History of St Kilda. From its settlement to a city and after. 1840 to 1930, Volume 2 Dwyer, Ruth, ‘A jewellery manufactory in Melbourne: Rosenthal, Aronson & Company’ in Provenance: The journal of Public Record Office Victoria, issue no.7, 2008 Melbourne Mansions Database (MMD), https://830s-filemaker1.its.unimelb.edu.au/fmi/iwp/cgi?-db=mmdb&- loadframes, viewed 25 May 2016 ‘Plan of the Borough of St Kilda Surveyed and Complied under the direction of the Borough Council by J.E.S. Vardy’, 1873 Port Phillip Heritage Review (PPHR) Volume 1, Version 17, September 2015 St Kilda Electoral Rolls (Burgess Rolls) 1868-1880 viewed online [20 June 2016] at http://heritage.portphillip.vic.gov.au/Research_resources/Online_research_resources/Local_electoral_rolls# StKrolls St Kilda Rate Books (RB) Public Records Office of Victoria Series Title 2335/P Microfilm copy of Rate Books, City of St Kilda [1858-1900] viewed at Ancestry.com on 21 May 2016 Victorian Heritage Database (VHD)


  • Compiled by: Helen Halliday
  • Last updated: Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Located on the corner of Alma Road and Charnwood Crescent.