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Tandragee then Summerland, 17-27 (demolished) Fitzroy Street

View from Fitzroy Street ca 1860 View from Fitzroy Street ca 1860 Davies & Co. (Melbourne, Vic.), photographer, SLV image H642

  • Date Built: From August 1852
  • Demolished: 1920
  • First European Land Owner:


    1857 Crown Allotments St Kilda Planning Scheme (part) M27(333)  This site is part of the first block sold in the first Crown Land sale in St Kilda, as early as December 1842:The buyer, Lieutenant James Ross Lawrence, who was captain of the schooner Lady of St Kilda. Captain Lawrence named Acland Street after Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, the ship’s owner. https://stkildahistory.org.au/our-collection/resources/m27 

    1847 feb 3 The land agent G S Brodie, acting on instructions from the estate of Robert Donaldson deceased, advertised lots 9,10 & 11 (which makes up this site) for sale by auction.

    1852 ownership Robert Bennett .

    1873 Vardy Maps West Ward Sheet 5 Now subdivided Allotment 40 Ownership G Wilson



  • Owners and occupiers:

    18552 -1864 ownership Robert Bennett. R Bennett,was a stone mason and builder who arrived in Melbourne in 1842. He became a Melbourne City Councillor in 1853, a Member of Parliament in 1857 and Lord Mayor of Melbourne in 1861.

    1852 George Wharton architect advertised for tenders for the house. Bennett named the house Tandragee after the village in Northern Ireland where he had been born. Images taken at the time show Robert Bennett and his wife, pictured on the balcony, lived here from 1855.

    1864 R Bennett put the property to auction on 18 August. His furniture followed shortly afterwards on the 30th August.

    1864-1869 Tandragee ownership solicitor J. B. Bennett.

    1869-1870 Ownership John Guthrie.

    1870-1890 Ownership George Wilson. Name Changed to Summerland.

    1891-1904 It was occupied by Hon. William Shiels MLA (1847- His background has been recorded by Sally Douglas. Melbourne University. See WILLIAM SHIELS - MLA & PREMIER OF VICTORIA - 1847 - LLB UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE 1873 - Trove (nla.gov.au)

    1890-1910 Georgina Fraser, née Watt 

    1910 - 1950? Elsie Rowe Crespin

    See Entry Summerland Mansions 


  • Architects:

    George Wharton (1822-1891)

    Wharton was an extremely prolific designer of over 360 houses, commercial and religious buildings, between 1848 and his death in 1891, on his own and in three partnerships. His best-known building, bearing no resemblance to that Summerland, is the See Yup Temple in Raglan Street, South Melbourne (1866).

    The first St Kilda Rate Roll (1857) records Bennett’s property on the south-east corner of Acland and Fitzroy Streets of 16 rooms, a coach house and stables. The serene double-storied Regency house appears square in plan, of three bays. It had a hipped roof, a central Doric porch, projecting from an encircling verandah and a substantial iron palisade fence..

  • Description:

    Large detached two-story rendered brick residence of six bedrooms and four sitting rooms, designed in the Victorian Regency style with stables and coach house at rear.

    The house was stuccoed brick, with fourteen rooms, stables, a coach house, and an enclosed garden.
  • History:

    The house was eventually demolished in 1919 for the construction of Summerland Mansions.

  • Sources:


    Melbourne Mansions Database Registration Entry: 693 

    See Richard Peterson, A Place of Sensual Delight: Buildings of St Kilda and their People, Chapter 15

    Argus 1847.01.29 p.3 Sale by Auction Description of Donaldson's lots for auction on 1847.02.01

     Argus 1852.08.14 p.2 Tenders George Wharton invites contracts for masons, bricklayers and plasterers work to be done in the erection of a dwelling house at St Kilda for Mr. Robert Bennett.

     Argus 1856.08.25 p.9 Election Notice Notice of intention to stand for Parliament and issues of interest, signed by Robert Bennett at Tandragee House, St Kilda

     Argus 1864.07.30 p.2 Sale by Auction  Thursday, August 18. Most important sale of very valuable freehold City and suburban properties [9 lots, including Tandragee and the Globe Hotel].

     Argus 1864.08.30 p.2 Sale by Auction Wednesday, August 31. Instructions for Robert Bennett Esq. MLA to sell by auction at his residence Tandgaree [sic] house the whole of his very valuable furniture. 

     Argus 1864.03.05 p.8 To Let To let furnished, the dwelling house and premises occupied by Mr. J. B. Bennett, corner of Fitzroy Street and Acland streets, St Kilda…[house description follows]

    Argus 1869.01.02 p.2  Sale  by Auction Messrs. Noyes & Reed have been instructed by J. B. Bennett, Esq. to sell at public auction at his residence, corner of Fitzroy Street and Acland streets, St Kilda...the whole of the highly valuable furniture, handsome pianoforte, plate, glass and china etc.

     1869 Burgess roll for the Borough of St Kilda West Ward p.4 (approved 28th July 1869) Roll no. 139, Rate Book no. 362; John Guthrie, gentleman; Fitzroy street, 3 votes

    1871 Burgess roll for the Borough of St Kilda  West Ward p.7 (approved 18th July 1870) Roll no. 277, Rate Book no. 1962; George Wilson, gentleman; Fitzroy street, 3 votes

    City of St Kilda Building Permits Register  no. 3959 Crespin G. H., owner; Thomas Donald & Co, builder; brick flats. description: 1, extra 1st rate, 2.0.0, verandah 10.0. fee paid £3.10s.0d. 


  • Compiled by: Peter Johnson and Helen Halliday
  • Last updated: Saturday, 07 May 2022