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Yanakie, (Extant) 161 Alma Road

View of Yanakie from west side shortly after its completion in ca. 1869. View of Yanakie from west side shortly after its completion in ca. 1869. Image RIBA13853, Royal Institute of British Architects]

  • Date Built: Most likely 1869
  • Demolished: Extant
  • Builder:

    Edward Shield, a local builder, erected the house

  • First European Land Owner:


    1873 J Vardy North Ward Map 7 

    1900 MMBW Map 1420 

  • Owners and occupiers:

    Originally known as ‘Yanakie’ and later as ‘Wavenhoe’, at 161 Alma Road, St Kilda East in 1868 for the merchant, William W. Couche.

    The house first appears in the 1867 St Kilda rate book when it is described as a 7 room brick house with a Net Annual Value of £86 (RB 1867, no. in rate 1165). By 1870 when Mr. Couche is the owner and occupier, it is described as an 8 room brick house with a NAV of £180 (RB 1870, 824). The lower valuation in 1867 probably reflects that it was unfinished at that time.Built for William Wilmot Couche, merchant and businessman. He was the founder of Couche Calder & Co and directed several insurance companies.

    Although it still stands at the same Alma Road address (under the name "Wavenhoe"), the street Wavenhoe Avenue has since been constructed through the property’s gardens and most of its land sold off.

    William W, Couche remained the owner and occupier with his family until 1889. During this time thenumber of rooms increased to nine by 1878, and ten by 1885 when an additional storey on the rear wing was added (RB, MMDB).
    In 1889 Couche sold the property to Charles Cairns Murray, a wool merchant (MMDB; RB 1890, 1469).According to one account it was Murray who constructed the addition on the north side in 1896, However this is not shown on the MMBW plan of 1900 (see below). The MMBW plan shows the house on a large allotment with a carriage drive leading to the corner of Alma Road and Hotham Street. A pattern of pathways indicates the extent of the formal gardens, which also contain a tennis court and a complex of outbuildings including a large stable block on the east side of the mansion close to Alma Road.

    After Murray’s premature death at the age of 42 at ‘Yanakie’ in March 1898 (The Argus, 15 March 1898, p.1)George Wills purchased the property in the following year for £2,700 (MMDB, The Age, 27 June 1899, p.4).Wills rented the mansion to John H. Maddock, a solicitor, who was living there in 1901, by which time the mansion had been renamed as ‘Wavenhoe’ (The Argus, 11 April 1901, p.1 Family notices; SM). Wills remained the owner until 1910 when it was transferred to Mary Caulfield.

    Mrs. Caulfield established the Caulfield Institute for Alcoholism at the mansion and in June 1910 advised that she was now prepared to receive patients at the renamed ‘Caulfield Hall’ (The Age, 3 June 1910, p.6).

    In 1921 ‘Wavenhoe’ was offered for sale and in 1922 the grounds were subdivided to create Wavenhoe Avenue. Mrs Mary Gould was listed as the occupant in 1925, but by the 1930s, ‘Wavenhoe’ had been converted to apartments, which were advertised as ‘bargain flats’ of two and three rooms (The Argus, 23January 1932, p.14; SM).

  • Architects:

    An image of ‘Yanakie’ soon after completion was among several photographs of houses designed by Tayler that he submitted to the Royal Institute of British Architects after he was admitted in 1874 (MMDB, RIBA). This image and another slightly later (c.1872) image of the house (see below) show that it was two storey, constructed of bi-chrome brick and surrounded by a two level verandah. It was surrounded by formal gardens, which were maintained by a Mr. William McDougall who in 1879 was admitted to the Victorian Horticultural Improvement Society (The Age, 24 January 1879, p.5).

  • Description:

    ‘Yanakie’, later ‘Wavenhoe’, at 161 Alma Road, St Kilda East is significant. .as being originally in the Polychromatic Lombardic design.The main two storey section of the house is built of brick, and has a secondary wing built of timber. An early photograph shows the house, which faced south, was constructed of bi-chrome brick with contrasting bricks creating decorative quoins around the openings and the wall corners and diaper patterns on the walls. A two storey cast iron verandah wrapped around the west and south elevations

    ‘Yanakie’ was designed by Lloyd Tayler for William W. Couche who owned the property until 1889. Additions were made in 1885 (additional storey to rear wing) and c.1900 (north side). In the early twentieth century the mansion was converted to apartments and the surrounding land was subdivided to create Wavenhoe Avenue. It is a Victorian Italianate style mansion built of brick and timber with hipped roofs clad in slate.

    Today, the walls have been overpainted and the verandah has been almost fully enclosed, however, some of the original cast iron verandah survives on the west elevation (and possibly may be concealed within the walls) as do the eaves brackets. The timber two storey section has ashlar-look block walls and visible windows in the north wall of both the brick and timber sections are arch-headed timber sash. The rendered chimneys to the main house have been shortened. On the north side is a single storey brick section with a hipped slate roof and a roof lantern and corbelled brick chimney. There are two arched windows in the west wall.

    The main visible change has been the overpainting of the face brickwork and the enclosure of verandah. The former is a reversible change, while sufficient evidence exists (including surviving original sections of the verandah) to enable reconstruction of the latter, in the future if the opportunity arose. Despite these changes, it remains legible as a mansion of the nineteenth century.

    It is historically significant for its associations with the early development of St Kilda East as an example of the large mansions built along Alma Road in the nineteenth century, and demonstrates the wealth and status of St Kilda and of Alma Road during that time. The significance of the place is enhanced by its rarity values as one of only a small number of surviving pre-1870 mansions in St Kilda East and the only one east of Hotham Stree

  • Sources:


    David Helms City of Port Phillip heritage adviser. Information from HO 6 St Kilda East Heritage Review. Above largely extracted from this document.

    Level of significance: Local Significant Citation Number 2386

    Reference/s: St Kilda Historical Society. (2018, December). Mansions of East St Kilda: Yanakie 161 Alma Road, East St Kilda. St Kilda Times, (226), 6. Retrieved from https://stkildahistory.org.au/news-and-events/newsletters

    MMDB Entry 3923 

  • Compiled by: Helen Halliday
  • Last updated: Monday, 18 October 2021

Now painted white immediately adjacent to the Alma Road gates to the St Kilda Cemetery. The front of Yanakie faces the sea so its main facade is to Wavenhoe Avenue.