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Unley's Federation Heritage

mansion at 2 Miegunyah Ave, Unley Park.j

The Henry Cowell-built mansion at 2 Miegunyah Ave, Unley Park, that has no state heritage listing. Picture: AAP/Brenton Edwards

Mansions on Victoria Ave in Unley Park are not heritage-listed, architecture student discovers

Craig Cook, Messenger Community News July 29, 2019

Rated the best street in SA, this tree-lined Adelaide avenue of dreams boasts some of the state’s most gorgeous historic mansions — and it appears only one is safe from the bulldozer.


Rutland Hall or ‘Yerna Yerna,’ 2A Rutland Ave (formerly 12 Victoria Ave Unley Park).

​Victoria Ave in Unley Park has been voted South Australia's most prestigious street in a survey of property experts conducted by The Advertiser.

  • The survey polled 20 leading real estate agents to determine which streets they rated as the best address.

  • They gave five points to their top pick through to one point for their fifth selection.

  • Victoria Ave was the clear winner with 66 points.

Adelaide’s most prestigious address, Victoria Ave at Unley Park is home to some of our most successful South Australians

  • — high-flying lawyers, doctors and business people all call the tree-lined street home.

  • And then there’s the “old money” — the family dynasties who simply pass their grand home from one generation to the next.

As a result, sales on the plane tree-lined street are few and far between, each new listing triggering action among SA’s elite who fight to secure their slice of the South Australian real estate dream.

  • It is often ranked as Adelaide’s top address, but new research has revealed many of the mansions that line Victoria Ave at Unley Park have little or no protection from demolition.


Master of Architecture student Kenan Henderson has found many of the houses in the well-known precinct, which includes Northgate St and Rutland and Miegunyah avenues, were built by architect Henry Cowell, mostly for wealthy landowner Simon Harvey.

  • Despite their national significance, the research assistant claims few of the properties are state heritage-listed.

  • Rutland Hall or ‘Yerna Yerna,’ 2A Rutland Ave (formerly 12 Victoria Ave).

  • “Currently, many of these buildings are completely without any heritage protection and not even listed under local or contributory protection,” Mr Henderson, of Forestville, said.

  • “Victoria Ave is legendary as a desirable street and this significant collection needs to be protected.

“Unley Council has a zone that provides some level of protection but doesn’t guarantee it in its current state. “I suspect most Adelaide residents will be shocked to learn they are under threat.”


University architecture student Kenan Henderson.

Picture: AAP/Brenton Edwards

Henry Cowell, builder.jpg

Henry Cowell, Architect and Builder

 He studied architectural drawing at the Adelaide School of Design, after which he and his brother started a business in Norwood as builders and timber merchants in 1875. He resumed architecture by the turn of the century.

Henry Cowell, who was best known for his Fruit and Produce Exchange buildings on the corner of Grenfell St and East Tce, completed in 1904, built 13 mansions in the Unley Park area between 1893 and 1903.

  • He used the properties as a showroom for wealthy clients to assess his considerable architectural talents.

  • Consequently few houses on the “Boulevard of Dreams” were built in the same configuration.


“All that information had been lost and has never been recorded in any City of Unley heritage survey and I only stumbled on it by accident,” Mr Henderson said.

  • “It has only come to light due to the availability of digital archives such as Trove."


Past owners of Cowell’s properties, which stand in the shade of London plane trees and giant gums, include

  • two of the richest-ever South Australians, pastoralists Sir Sidney Kidman and Henry Dutton.

  • Test cricket legend Clem Hill, who has a stand at Adelaide Oval named after him, and his wife Florence, also lived in a property.


Mr Henderson said of all Cowell’s houses, ‘Miegunyah’, at 2 Miegunyah Ave, built in 1893 and previously owned by the Dutton family, was “the most deserving case” for heritage listing.

19 Victoria Avenue Unley Park 3.jpg

c1890: 158-160 Wattle Street, Unley

1907: New Unley Institute 201 Unley Road, Unley


6 Victoria Avenue, Unley Park

8 Victoria Avenue, Unley Park

14 Victoria Avenue , Unley Park

Mansion, 16 Victoria Avenue, Unley Park

Yurilla Hall, 20 Victoria Avenue , Unley Park

Woodspring, 35 Grove Street, Unley Park;

Dolling Court, 25 High Street, Unley Park

Residence, 170 Cross Road, Malvern ;

1914: 'Linda', 186 Cross Road, Malvern

Residence, 41 Austral Terrace, Malvern 

Residence, 50 Austra l Terrace, Malvern

Kyre College/House, 72 Clifton Street, Malvern

1900: 'Longer Crendon', 174 Cross Road, Malvern

1895: Collegiate School for Girls Address: 202-202A Fisher Street, Malvern

'Bella Vista', 13 Wooldridge Avenue, Millswood

'Heathcote', 10 Avenue Street, Millswood

29 Wood Street, Millswood

Coonawarra, 34 Wood Street, Millswood

Physical Education Centre 181 Goodwood Road, Millswood; Orphanage,

'Rogart' , 4 Malcolm Street, Millswood

c1885: Zeehan, 5 Clyde Street, Parkside

1A Macklin Street, Parkside

2 George Street, Parkside

c1870: 9 Clyde Street, Parkside

1913: 20 Blyth Street, Parkside

21 Montpelier Street, Parkside

1878: 87 Young Street, Parkside - originally built for R. Jones during 1878.

Jenkins moved to a larger residence on Cross Roads at Malvern in about 1905.

Young's School, 61 Young Street, Parkside

Rectory, 7 St. Ann's Pl ace , Parkside

Residence, 159 Greenhill Road, Parkside

Residence, 169 Greenhill Road, Parkside

cl896: Carramar Clinic. 179 Greenhill Road, Parkside

158 Young Street, Parkside

c1870: Residence 175 Greenhill Road, Parkside 

c1870: Residence/Offices, 180 Greenhill Road, Parkside

1902; Additions - front - 1908: Parkside & Eastwood Institute, 96 Glen Osmond Road, Parkside

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