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Notable Arts and Crafts Houses in NSW

Arts and Crafts in Australia


Architecture was reformed by the Arts and Crafts movement, through

  • traditional building crafts,

  • the use of local materials, and

  • the freedom from any imposed style.


Function, need and simplicity (without spurious ornament) were to inform design, encapsulated in the work of


Arts and Crafts also encompasses interior design, fine and decorative arts, printing and publishing (book design, illustrations, posters, and advertisements, jewellery and tableware, textiles and wallpaper, furniture and ceramics.

The Arts and Crafts movement declined in England after 1900 but was influential in Europe and in the United States with the work of

In Sydney the Arts and Crafts movement was established by architects 

Walter Liberty Vernon
Hestock, designed by Walter Liberty Vernon
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Above Left: Walter Liberty Vernon,     Above Right:  45 Kurraba Rd Neutral Bay NSW. designed by Walter :Liberty Vernon

Arts and Crafts in Australia

Above: Hestock, 1885 - Hestock is of State heritage significance as one of the few domestic buildings designed by eminent architect Walter Liberty Vernon.​

Walter Liberty Vernon

From 1890, when the English-trained architect Walter Liberty Vernon was appointed Government Architect, the architectural work of Vernon and the Government Architect’s Branch (GAB) progressed from the Queen Anne Revival through the Federation style to the Arts and Crafts Free Style.

A strong social consciousness can be seen in the buildings designed by Vernon, with a focus on the design of well-lit, well-ventilated, simply furnished and un-ornamented public buildings.

Vernon’s application of the ideals of the Art and Crafts Movement stretched far beyond designing individual highly-crafted buildings, encompassing the emerging disciplines of town planning and the Garden City Movement.

Vernon’s legacy to the state of NSW is a series of elegant public buildings that employ the traditional arts of building: schools, hospitals and asylums, post offices, courthouses, police stations and workers’ housing. [1]

Walter Liberty Vernon
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Houses listed are drawn from Harriet Edquist's "Pioneers of Modernism"

- click title to find a library copy -

Early Arts and Crafts Houses of NSW


Early Arts and Crafts Houses NSW
Fairwater, the residence of Mr. Fairfax,

Fairwater, 560 New South Head Rd, Point Piper NSW, 1882 


Fairwater, 560 New South Head Rd, Point Piper NSW, is a large domestic residence designed by John Horbury Hunt, constructed in 1882 with additions made in c.1901 and 1910, with former stable (c.1900s) and garage (1930),

  • Situated on a large suburban allotment fronting Port Jackson with mature garden landscaping including notable trees. Fairwater is listed on the Register of the National Estate

  • "Powerful yet restrained composition in brick and timber, large complex, manages to successfully modulate its scale so that it appears disarmingly domestic.

  • Buildings and grounds are amongst the last of the great suburban estates remaining intact. Estate is historically important, having been connected with the Whites of Cranbrook and the Fairfax family, who still retain ownership."

  • Mrs Fairfax died in 2017, and this estate was sold to Tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes and his wife Annie and family for a record $100 million in 2018.

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Glenleigh, 427-507 Mulgoa Road, Mulgoa NSW, 1882-1884


Positioned on the banks of the Nepean River and the hill between Penrith and Mulgoa is “Glenleigh Estate”, renowned for its unique beauty, historic Scottish baronial residence and 86 acre parkland estate.

Built in the 1880’s Glenleigh was designed by the eminent architect W.W Wardell as a weekend country hideaway for the wealthy shipping merchant and financier, James Ewan.

James Ewan (1843-1903) was a financier and chairman of the Australian Steamship Navigation Co. The house was built as his country residence.

His wife Marion was the sister of the politician George Reid.

Ewan died of influenza in 1903 at Glenleigh, and his widow lived on at the house until 1917.

In later years the property was owned by Messrs T.W. Ransley and Morris (1917-1920), Colin Smith (1920-?) and from around 1945 to 1980 by Dr. Monticone.




Glenleigh is on the banks of the Nepean River and has direct boat access.

In 2016 and Glenleigh, which is just outside Penrith was on the market, with its owner Graham Windridge hoping it would sell to someone who can enjoy living in it every day of the week as he has, rather than just weekends.

An antique dealer helped source fittings and furniture in keeping  with  Glenleigh’s  era.

“We were attracted to the property’s obvious historic and architectural beauty but also that it is only an hour from Sydney and yet it is so secluded and peaceful,” Mr Windridge said.

He bought the property at 427-507 Mulgoa Road with friend and business partner Fred Grotto in 1984 for $1 million, setting a Penrith record as the suburb’s most expensive home.

Together they restored the manor to its former glory and furnished it in keeping with its Scottish baronial architecture which draws on features of medieval castles and the French renaissance artistic movement.


The original dairy has been converted into an office and the horse stables and coach house are used for the nursery.

The tennis court and pavilion are also used to store plants, with a separate cottage for an onsite manager or guests. [2]

Many myths surround this house, including that the owner James Ewan brought painters from Italy to decorate the interior with friezes, stencils and ceiling murals.

More research suggests that the painting, which has to be seen to be believed, was done by Sydney firm Lyons, Cottier & Co. This company were very popular in the 1880s, but not many of their works have been preserved. Glenleigh is therefore very rare and worth a visit. 

“Glenleigh” comprises grand living rooms, elegant dining spaces, regal courtyard and to reflect each rooms use, some of the finest surviving painted interior decorations in any house in Australia in the style of Lyon, Cottier & Co

The work of the decorating Company Lyon, Cottier & Co. is of State significance in its own right, as one of the most complete and well preserved examples of the Company's work.

  • Stained glass windows and cedar throughout are constant reminders of a bygone era. 

  • ​The lavish interior decoration was for private appreciation. Visitors were few.

  • Sold on 2 August 2016 for $7.5 million

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Architect John Horbury Hunt


Hunt brought about a revolution in Australian architecture and was responsible for some of its most powerful and austere landmarks, including the Convent of the Sacred Heart at Rose Bay, St Peter’s Cathedral and the well-known Booloominbah, both at Armidale, and Tivoli at Rose Bay. This ‘marine villa’ is still credited with the best gable in Australia.


Hunt designed and built cathedrals, churches, chapels, houses, homesteads, stables and schools.

  • Hunt’s architecture was twenty years in advance of his peers, some of it unequalled in the world at that time, and sowed the seeds of modern architecture in Australia.

  • Large or small, his buildings have a dramatic presence with their siting, asymmetrical balance, excellent brickwork and quality craftsmanship.

  • Hunt was at the forefront of a worldwide movement where every brick and board was placed for a structural purpose, not for ornamentation. 

  • “(The) most accomplished Australian nineteenth century exponent of brickwork was John Horbury Hunt (1838 – 1904).

    • His skill was exercised in small unpretentious churches like the Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd at Kangaroo Valley (his first building in 1872) to large cathedrals like St. Peter’s at Armidale (1871 – 1897)”.
      – Australian Brickwork and Horbury Hunt.

  • It has been said that “Undoubtedly men such as Hunt… have, through their buildings and their ideas, stiffened the intellectual backbone of Australian architecture.” [3]

    • One person who saw Hunt’s talent was a remarkable Belgian nun, the Reverend Mother Febronie Vercruysse, who brought the Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Heart to Australia in 1881.

    • She commissioned him to design their convent at Rose Bay.

    • Its chapel is widely recognised as a masterpiece.

    • The interior is structurally breathtaking. The stone vaulted roof was the first of its kind in Australia and has not been surpassed’, said Joy Hughes. [4]

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Architect John Horbury Hunt

Booloominbah, 60 Madgwick Drive Armidale, 1884-1888

Booloominbah is of State heritage significance as one of the largest private country houses built in Australia during the 19th century and amongst the most avant-garde domestic Arts and Crafts style designs of the time.

Designed as an interpretation of an English country house, Booloominbah sits in a relatively intact landscape.

As such, it is exemplary of the work of architect John Horbury Hunt.

As well as being large, it is also extravagant in decoration, in particular the use of stained glass.

The fabric substantially demonstrates the wealth and influence of pastoralism in NSW in late 19th century. 



Its gift by Thomas R. Forster was the catalyst for the establishment of the New England University College, the first in Australia to be located outside of a capital city.


The gift of such a substantial house demonstrates

  • the historical circumstances of the White family's involvement,

  • the impetus from the local church and community groups, and

  • the 'new state' movement in establishing Armidale as a major educational centre in NSW. (Clive Lucas Stapleton & Partners 1992)​

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Booloominbah Whites Famly home
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Booloominbah, Armidale, NSW
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Booloominbah Historic windows

Booloominbah is a Queen Anne style Arts and Crafts mansion situated at the University of New England in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia, and is listed on the Register of the National Estate

  • Booloominbah reflects the Gothic revivalist influences of the 'Queen Anne' style that emerged in England and the United States in the last half of the 19th century. Recent refurbishment has restored much of the original decoration. The building has National Trust classification. 

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Hestock (aka Le Chalet), 14 Crescent Street Hunters Hill, 1885 


Hestock is of State heritage significance as one of the few domestic buildings designed by eminent architect Walter Liberty Vernon.​


Hestock was built in 1885 by Alfred Christian Garrick, the owner of Passy.

  • The architect was Walter Liberty Vernon (later the New South Wales Government Architect from 1890 to 1911). He also designed the Hunters Hill Post Office.

  • Hestock was illustrated in the Australian Builder's and Contractor's News of August 18, 1888. 

  • In 1886 John Arthur was the tenant of the house and H.B. Cotton from 1888. 


Hestock is a substantial two storey sandstone residence, with verandahs on three sides.

The sandstone walls are rock-faced ashlar and feature smooth dressed quoins and smooth dressed stone mullions to the windows.

The house is asymmetrical, with a steeply pitched gabled slate roof.

Chimneys are sandstone with pairs of unglazed terracotta chimney pots.

The gable ends feature imitation half-timbering.

Windows are often in groups of three. The group of three windows lighting the entrance hall to the northeast of the entry porch feature geometrically patterned leadlights.

Also adjacent to the entry porch, carved into one of the dressed quoins are the words 'Hestock AD 1881'.

The house was named Le Chalet during (at least) the years 1890 to 1924. There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that it was known as Le Chalet up until 1968 (pers comm with previous occupant). 


Sold in October 2007 for $5.3 million

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Hestock 14 Crescent St Hunters Hill
Hestock 14 Crescent St Hunters Hill
Hestock 14 Crescent St Hunters Hill
Hestock 14 Crescent St Hunters Hill
Hestock 14 Crescent St Hunters Hill
Hestock 14 Crescent St Hunters Hill


Pibrac, 11 Pibrac Avenue, Warrawee, 1888


Pibrac is on the Register of the National Estate (Pibrac and Garden, 11 Pibrac Av, Warrawee, NSW)

In 1888, the public servant and patron of exploration Frederick Ecclestone du Faur built his house Pibrac in Pibrac Avenue, designed by John Horbury Hunt.

Pibrac, Warrawee

"Pibrac" is a spectacular character residence nestled on approximately 4,500 square metres of world class gardens and rolling lawns, positioned in one of the North Shore’s best streets, only a short walk to rail and within close proximity to leading schools.

  • Circa 1888 – meticulously restored to the most gracious standards

  • High ceilings, 7 fireplaces, polished floors and unique character features throughout

  • Large formal lounge with room for grand piano

  • Formal dining room seats 10-12 people

  • 5 huge bedrooms, main with ensuite, walk-in robe and large undercover veranda.

  • Four Bedrooms  with ensuite bathroom

  • Study & 4.5 bathrooms

  • Rumpus / billiard room with fireplace and bay window

The house was designed by John Horbury Hunt, the Canadian architect who settled in Australia and favoured the Arts and Crafts style, as well as the North American Shingle style, which he introduced to Australia.

A good example of Hunt's use of the North American shingle style of building illustrating his mastery of composition and the use of timber and brick.

Originally entirely clad in timber shingles set on a sandstone base, the roof shingles have been replaced by tiles.

The double gable and the regularly spaced brick chimneys with flared out corbels are the principal elements of the elevation.

All timberwork including the plain barge boards is painted white.

The recessed entrance porch is off set and at the rear is a deep recessed verandah with oversize timber posts supporting a balcony opening off the main bedroom.

Connected to the main house by a tiled covered walkway is a small dairy now used as a laundry.

All bedroom accomodation is upstairs. Apart from some sympathetic alterations by B.J Waterhose to the downstairs sitting room, the house has been little altered.

The building is generally in excellent condition (Source: National Trust Listing Proposal).

Later alterations were carried out by B.J.Waterhouse. The house is composed predominantly of timber, with extensive use of timber shingles, on a sandstone base. Pibrac is considered a good example of Hunt's work and is listed on the Register of the National Estate. ​

Sold June 2007 for $7,250,000

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Trevenna,  Trevenna Rd, University of New England, Armidale 1889


"Trevenna" is an outstanding late nineteenth century mansion designed by architect John Horbury Hunt. 

Trevenna, Armidale
Trevenna, Armidale NSW
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Trevenna at New England University
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Various influences are evident including the American Shingle style, Queen Anne and Arts and Crafts.

Trevenna is of complex form with four very different elevations.

One and two storeys with high pitched slate roof. Tall brick chimneys. Stone foundations and stone rubble walls. Brick arches to ground floor openings.

Many different window shapes and types with painted timber frames. Limited use of verandahs.

Set in large grounds with long formal driveway and beautifully planted gardens. clearly representative of the domestic architecture of Horbury Hunt.

The residence has been designed in a unique style at a time when residential design was trying to break free of the Georgian mould.

The design features include natural local materials of timber, rock (basalt) and brick.

There are aspects of the design that reveal the innovative and unusual nature of Hunt's work such as the number of different arched openings that are located at random internally and externally without consideration of a theme or relationship to each other. 

The design features of "Trevenna" clearly reflects the class social structure of the day by separating the owners from the servants and service areas on each level of the residence.

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The Chalet Cottage, Government House 1890

The Chalet Cottage, Government House 1890

The Chalet, designed by Vernon to sit immediately adjacent to the Gothic Revival Government House designed by Edward Blore, is a substantial timber residence built to accommodate the Governor’s Chief of Staff.

  • A two-storey timber villa with a deliberately asymmetrical brick chimney and oriel windows, the Chalet continues the series of picturesque lodges built in the Domain, rather than following the Gothic Revival style of the main house.


The Chalet is located west of Government House on a 'picturesque' site at the edge of the Royal Botanical Gardens, and is constructed in the Federation Queen Anne style.

The building is significant as the only residence in Sydney to feature the combination of shingle wall cladding to the upper floor, with a board and batten cladding to the lower floor.

It is significant for its association with the administration of the Governor's official duties, and for its later use as a guesthouse for family and guests. 

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The Highlands,  9 Highlands Avenue Wahroonga 1890-1893

The Highlands is one of the last houses John Horbury Hunt ever built.

The Highlands, Wahroonga
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John Horbury Hunt was instrumental in bringing the North American Shingle Style to Australia. The outstanding example of this style was Highlands, a two-storey home designed by Hunt and built for Alfred Hordern in 1891.

Highlands is regarded as one of the finest examples (and, by some, as THE finest example) of his original shingled style​. He was certainly at the height of his powers when he designed it.


The house displays many of the elements common to Hunt's Shingle Style houses, including recessed verandahs and sweeping skirts to deposit water well away from the walls.

In contrast to these common elements, Highlands also displays several unusual features, a half-glass door and distinctive chimney stack being the most prominent. 


Highlands is significant as evidence of women shaping architecture. Mrs Caroline Hordern was a keen cook and the two-storey kitchen wing was heavily influenced by her. The landscaping was also of her creation and Mrs. Horden introduced many exotics from the Pacific Islands to adorn the garden.

Sold on November 2014 for $2,950,000

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