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'Moira' 55 Alma Road

55 Alma Road 55 Alma Road Liz Kelly
Other Names  Garroch; Avoncourt Private Hotel; Grenfell House.
Date Built  Ground floor possibly late 1850s, second storey added after 1867, perhaps by Nicholas Fitzgerald.
Owners  John Randle Pascoe; Gilbert McCaul; Thomas Draper; A W Fraser; Nicholas Fitzgerald.
Description Two storey nine-room rendered brick and stone with north-facing balcony and bay windows. In the rate books, the house occupying this location ranges in size from eight rooms to 13 rooms, not always sequentially.

According to the St Kilda Rate Books, the following owners are connected to a residence on the south side of Alma Road, the second property east of the Lambeth Place corner:

11 March 1859 John Randle (Randall) Pascoe is the owner occupier of an eight-room brick villa 2nd house east from Lambeth Place plus coach house and stables. A Mr Devereaux is next door on the Lambeth corner. An advertisement placed by Mr Devereaux appeared in the Argus in August 1858 by which he attempted to sell his house ‘Alma Villa’ and which suggested that John Pascoe was already in situ next door.

11 Mar 1860 J R Pascoe is still the owner-occupier of an eight-room next to Mr Devereaux who is on the Lambeth corner. On the other Lambeth corner is land, then Henry Hull in a10 room brick and slate house. In 1861 Pascoe was embroiled in legal issues involving a family trust and he was declared insolvent. When the house was offered for sale, it was described as having 12 rooms and was situated opposite the home of the Hon. Matthew Hervey

11 Mar 1862 Thomas Marris is the new owner of an unoccupied 10-room brick residence, 2nd house east of Lambeth Place. Mr Deveraux remains on the Lambeth corner.

11 Mar 1863 Gilbert John McCaul auctioneer is now the owner occupier of a 10-room brick 2nd house east of Lambeth which he called ‘Garroch’. His immediate western neighbour on the Lambeth corner is Mr Devereaux.

21 Jan 1867 Gilbert McCaul is still there with Henry Fraser as his immediate eastern neighbour and Samuel Gibbs is west on Lambeth corner replacing Mr Devereaux. McCaul sold the house and two acres in 1867 - the single storey villa was advertised as having walls double the usual thickness and therefore suitable for the addition of a second storey.

21 Oct 1867 Thomas Draper becomes owner occupier of a 10-room brick house, the 2nd east of Lambeth. Samuel Gibbs occupies the corner of Alma and Lambeth.

7 March 1870 Thomas Draper’s name is crossed out and A W Fraser auctioneer (son of Alex Fraser of ‘Aldourie’ at 87 Alma Road) becomes owner of a 10-room brick 2nd house east of Lambeth, in the margin is written ‘Moira’. Samuel Gibbs, squatter lives in ‘Stormont’ on the Lambeth corner.

15 Dec 1873, Alexander W Fraser is owner of eight-room brick house 2nd east of Lambeth. John Wagner is now next-door replacing Samuel M Gibbs on the Lambeth corner. In Vardy's 1873 survey map (North Ward 5) A W Fraser appears as owner of a house at the location.

23 Dec 1878 rates, Alexander W Fraser auctioneer appears as owner occupier, but his name is crossed out and Nicholas Fitzgerald brewer is inserted as owner occupier. The County Galway-born Nicholas FItzgerald and his brother started the Castlemaine Brewery and in 1906 following a massive brewery amalgamation, Fitzgerald became a director of Carlton and United Breweries. He was elected to the Legislative Council in 1864 where he remained until 1906 and had extensive business and pastoral interests.

1881 rate book, Nicholas Fitzgerald brewer is owner occupier of a 13-room brick house with stables in Alma Street 2nd east from Lambeth Place. The Lambeth corner has John Wagner in Stormont, and on the other side, west, is Francis Beggs.

1908 Nicholas Fitzgerald dies. His widow lived on there until 1914 when the Fitzgerald family sold Moira. The sale advertisement suggested that the major construction work was done by the late Nicholas Fitzgerald, so he probably added the verandah, the bay window and the Victorian flourishes.

1920-1940s it was 'Avoncourt Private Hotel' and Guest House.

1943 during the war, it became ‘Grenfell House’ and provided accommodation for the Young Women’s Christian Association YMCA. It was also accommodation for Women’s Royal Australian Navy Service (WRANs) on leave.

1952 it reverted to its previous name ‘Avoncourt Private Hotel’ and continued as a private hotel or guest house until the mid 1970s.

Occupants  J R Pascoe; G McCaul; T Draper; A W Fraser; Nicholas Fitzgerald; YWCA; WRANs
MMDB Entry


Obituaries Australia Entry  


Trove Newspapers - trove.nla.gov.au

Sands and McDougall Directories - slv.vic.gov.au

St Kilda Rate Books

Ancestry - ancestry.com.au



Compiled by: Liz Kelly
Last updated: 3-8-22


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  • Compiled by: Liz Kelly
  • Last updated: Thursday, 04 August 2022