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Pittwater's Heritage Homes

Think Local

Hy Brasil

Avalon Beach

HY Brasil is of local and state heritage significance. The house, located on Chisholm Avenue, was designed by prominent architect Alexander Jolley in 1935 and built in 1936 for Arthur Wilson, after which it was acquired in 1958 by Ted Herman.

Previously called The Gem, Mr Herman gave a new name to the house - Hy Brasil - which was the name of a mythical island off the west coast of Ireland that was said to be the home of saints and a mist-covered paradise.

The single-storey stone dwelling - still owned by the Herman family - is noted for its inter-war exotic style and the use of natural materials and simple forms in a bush setting.

The Hermans have not only cared for the house, but retained and enhanced the garden and maintained the local bush, and also have introduced other plantings, such as tree ferns and a giant bird-of-paradise flower.

Stella James House

Avalon Beach

Located welt up from Avalon Beach on Palmgrove Road, this property backs onto the ridge line separating Avalon from Bilgola.

Its fame rests on the shoulders of Walter Burley Griffin, who designed the house in 1933. This was towards the end of Griffin's tenure in Australia, after his monumental work in the design of Canberra. This Pittwater property was commissioned for Estelle James and Clare Stevenson. In the latter part of the Depression, commissions of this type were few and far between. The house is on quite a steep site and required sandstone terracing to contain some modest gardens, including an abundantly fruiting avocado tree.

The house itself is a collection of squares - with a square living room at the centre, two square bedrooms at either end, and a square kitchen and bathroom.

The house is now owned by the National Trust.

The Moorings

Palm Beach

Overlooking Palm Beach and the sea beyond, The Moorings occupies an elevated position on the high side of Florida Road.

The house was completed in 1919, immediately after World War I, when the wealthy were beginning to acquire motor vehicles and Palm Beach was becoming the scene of impressive holiday cottages.

The house was designed by well-known architect James Peddle, and it reflected his recent experience in Southern California.

As with other beach-side houses in the affluent areas of the Northern Beaches, there is an extensive use of the local sandstone. One should keep in mind the difficulty in transporting building materials to locations like this in the early 1900s.

The garden of the one-storey property, with a relatively flat lawn and some palms and melaleucas, reflects a family beach-side characteristic of outdoor leisure.

The house is representative of cottages at the northern end of the peninsula, built of local natural materials to simple designs with traditional construction techniques.


Palm Beach

Orcades was built in 1936 for Max Murrell, although the architect and builder are not known. The property is a superb example of what is known as the once popular P&O style of architecture.

The P&O was, and still is, a famous shipping line - its signature architectural element being the white coloured hulls and superstructure.

The P&O style was part of the Art Deco style, with a strong use of moulded concrete, horizontal and vertical lines, port holes, curved walls, wrought iron balustrades and, above all, white paint.

Mr Murrell was clearly inspired by this type of architectural design, as the house was completed with porthole windows.

The P&O style garden at Orcades contained tropical fauna, such as palms, frangipanis and banana trees. Orcades was in fact a ship of the Orient line, with a corn yellow livery, and only in 1966 did it start to resemble a P&O liner and requiring a white repaint. The name itself is the latin for the Orkney Islands, north of Scotland.


Cottage Point

Homes started being constructed at Cottage Point from the 1870s but they more resembled log cabins. Up until 1934, access to this beautiful part of Cowan Water was by boat - only in 1968 was a sealed road established.

One of the few homes remaining from that period is the home that was built for Sir Hugh Dixson (1841-1926) named Sunrise.

The house, with a long, wide veranda, sits above the entrance to Coal and Candle Creek looking directly east.

The house was built as a weekender for the very wealthy family. Sir Dixson made his money in tobacco - taking over from his father and he further developed the enterprise. He was a very generous philanthropist, staunch Baptist and noted horticulturist. He was knighted in 1921.

The house built in the early 1900s remains an icon of Cottage Point.


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