The tower at Labassa Mansion in Caulfied North has received some much needed refurbishment and is finally open to the public. Last weekend saw several hundred people visiting the National Trust property.
The view from the tower is quiet spectacular. You can see all the way to the city. It's interesting to think that the tower was once someone's home. In the 1920s, Labassa was converted into ten flats which saw a variety of interesting bohemians, artists and musicians living there over the years up until the 1980s.
President of the volunteer group "Friends of Labassa", Vicki Shuttleworth, has been researching and writing about the lives of residents in a newsletter that is released several times per year. "I've got a long association with the house. The National Trust bought the property for its interiors which are largely intact but I was fascinated by the people who actually lived there," Vicki said.
Labassa is well worth a visit. It was originally an eight-roomed house built for Irish-born barrister, Richard Billing in 1862. He extended it to twenty rooms including an amazing stained glass window and sweeping stair case in 1873. The next owner, Alexander Robertson, in 1890, asked the well-known architect J.A.B Koch to "build me the most magnificent house in Melbourne". It was then turned in to a 35 room house sitting on six hectares of land.
Surprisingly, the lavish wallpapers and trompe l'oeil ceilings remained relatively unharmed during the years the mansion was turned into flats and you can imagine what life was like for the various residents as you wander about the house or take a tour. There are also some very yummy scones and refreshments served in the tea rooms that were once the servants' quarters.
Labassa is open on the third Sunday of each month from January - November. You can book online through the National Trust website or via trybooking here.