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Where is Melbourne's Oldest House?

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by Barry J (subscribe)
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Published September 26th 2019
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34 Waterloo Crescent, St Kilda (by McGrath St Kilda)


The histories of our oldest public buildings are well-documented, but the stories of our first private homes, built during Melbourne's establishment, are often a mystery.

The Heritage Council of Victoria is a good starting point, listing the significant buildings, artefacts and ships in 19th and 20th-century Melbourne.

To experience the full story, these 5 homes are amongst the oldest in Melbourne, each with a unique and compelling history.

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Ola Cohn's home (by Heritage Council of Victoria)


Cooks' Cottage
It might be a sly technicality, Captain James Cook's family home, built in 1755, pre-dates European settlement, making it the oldest home in Melbourne.

While it is the "oldest" home, it was rebuilt in Melbourne after each brick, tile, window and timber panel was shipped from Yorkshire, England in 1934 to commemorate Melbourne's centenary.

The two storey cottage has a pleasing facade streaked with green ivy, as the Union Jack flutters above the quaint country garden.

Tours of the home in Fitzroy Gardens, featuring heirlooms, antiques and details of Cook's adventures, can be enjoyed 9am – 5pm daily.

Contact the curators on (03) 9658 9658.


34 Waterloo Crescent, St Kilda
Only 2 decades after Melbourne was settled, a local family moved into this heritage-listed colonial home.

While all the modern conveniences are catered for in modern homes, in 1854, bathrooms were outside the home, making it a chilly experience for the current residents.

Another oddity is the direction the home is facing – away from the front fence. Although St Kilda is heavily developed now, in the 19th century, the inhabitants would have a clear view west to the coastline.

In October 2016, the home sold for just over $1 million.

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(by Cooks' Cottage)



330 King St, Melbourne
Built during the gold rush period in 1850, Russell's Old Corner Shop is a two storey, six room cement-rendered brick home, now serving tea and refreshments.

Looking out from windows in the Georgian-era designs, it's easy to imagine tall ships offloading a new arrival of settlers with gold rush fever.

Take note of the Victorian-styled cornices, elegant, yet modest, as the building lacked an embellished sitting room.

The building is unique in a city which was almost completely rebuilt as we spent the vast stores of wealth during the 1850s gold rush.

It's a unique history lesson in the heart of the CBD.


41 Gipps St, East Melbourne
Built in 1888 as a stable for local horse and carriage owners, the barn door was opened to the future when a petrol pump was installed and the building was converted to a garage for the new horseless carriages.

In the 1930s, Ola Cohn, one of our finest sculptors, remodelled the residence into a home, with an artist's studio on the ground floor.

The site is now a memorial, with her works of art placed throughout the home and garden. The items lead to the feature piece, a sculpture of Mother Earth atop Ola's grave.

Ola remains a source of artistic inspiration, with the Melbourne Society of Women Painters and Sculptors meeting here regularly.

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34 Waterloo Crescent, St Kilda (by McGrath St Kilda)


84 Claredon St, East Melbourne
Surrounded by homes of painted cement-render or the red tones of house bricks, the bluestones of Bishopscourt, home to our Anglican leaders, are particularly striking.

After the city's first bishop chose the site in 1848, construction was delayed to 1853. Builders had been tempted from their spiritual duty by the worldly pursuit of riches in the gold-bearing hills of Ballarat.

In the early 1900s, the upkeep of the home became a costly burden for the church, requiring the replacement of the northern wing with an inexpensive red brick construction

The interior has been modernised, but the original bluestone exterior and the delightful gardens have endured highlights of the suburb.


Where's the oldest home in your neighbourhood? Please let us know with a comment.





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Fascinating article. McCrae Homestead probably fits the bill as a very old building.
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (score: 3|5965) 1414 days ago
south melb
by junem (score: 1|11) 1412 days ago
I live close by to Schwerkolt cottage in Mitchum which goes back to around 1880 I think.
by Suzan (score: 0|6) 860 days ago
I am amazed that you include Cook's cottage but completely ignore Governor La Trobe's cottage! La Trobe's Cottage has been here since 1839, was the family's home for 12 years and is Melbourne's oldest surviving building. It is situated across the road from the childrens' garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens (which we have thanks to La Trobe!) - everyone should visit.
by Tania (score: 0|8) 423 days ago
St Vincent’s Pl, Albert Park, is a very old neighbourhood. With beautiful terrace houses from the 1860s and1870s
by Couls (score: 0|4) 176 days ago
From what I have read the McCrea Homestead is the forth oldest. It was built in 1842 and still stands in Pascoe Vale South. His then property was next to John Pascoe Faulkner.
by linds (score: 0|4) 83 days ago
48-50 Villiers St was constructed in 1854 and still stands
by torbe (score: 0|4) 82 days ago

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