(Pic 1 Dot contemplating the future in her Hamlyn Heights Mid-Century Modern Home)
This is Dot. This beautiful photo was taken by her grand-daughter, photographer Jane Kelynack, when Dot was 93 years old, about a year before her home was put on the market.
I don’t know Dot, or Jane, or her family, yet I know the story of her house, as I have seen it numerous times before. Dot’s grand-daughter, Jane, reached out to Secret Design Studio to let us know that her grandmother’s home was now on the market, and she was good enough to supply some original plans and photos of the home. In this black and white photo I can see that Dot is sitting in her favourite armchair, which is part of the suite that she and her husband, Jack, purchased to furnish their new mid-century modern home that they built in 1962.
Dot is surrounded by her treasures that she has spent a lifetime collecting. Souvenirs from her trips with Jack and family holidays. They include teaspoons, seashells and crocodiles, and while each has little financial value, they hold a lot of memories for Dot and her family. Dot has meticulously organised her collections, with the different groupings of the different items. I think Dot is looking slightly pensive in the photo. She may be thinking about the next stage in her life, leaving her home of fifty four years. What will become of her collections? And what will become of her home?
(Pic 2 Dot’s lounge room prepared for the real estate agent’s photographer)
Even though I have never met Dot, Jack or Jane, I do know of her house in Hamlyn Heights. Hamlyn Heights, which was known as “North Geelong” back in 1962, is a residential suburb of Geelong, Victoria and is located to the west of the city in the hills that overlook Corio Bay. While there was some early development in the 1850’s, the suburb really took off in the late 1950’s, with a post office being established in 1959, and Dot and Jack building their home in 1962. The suburb is named after Sidney Hamlyn who was a local resident in the 1940’s.
I know Dot’s house as every time I have a client visit to Hamlyn Heights I make sure I drive (or walk) past to admire it. Of all of the suburbs of Geelong, Hamlyn Heights, is my most visited due to the number of owners of mid-century homes who need specialist assistance and get a “Dr Retro House Call”. Many of these homes are largely original and unmolested, and haven’t suffered from the “fashionable” renovations that Melbourne homes of the same period have endured.
Dot and Jack’s home still stands out today, sitting in an elevated position on a double corner block, and designed to maximise the views over Corio Bay. It is sheltered under a wide skillion roof, with a sweeping concrete terrace that runs the full length of the home, together with a long run of an elegantly curved wrought iron balustrade, that terminates at the bottom of an open riser entry stair. Large, corner windows, coloured eaves and an interesting reverse gable treatment to the skillion means that this home stops mid-century enthusiasts like me in our tracks.
One of the reasons that the reverse gable is so unusual is that looking back at the old photos the home was originally a butterfly roof, with a long gutter running down the centre. Box gutters and butterfly roofs are always a bad combination, especially in exposed positions like this with the potential for wind-blown rain to be blown up under the roof. At some stage Dot and Jack have taken the decision to re-roof with a skillion roof, but maintain the original butterfly eaves line.
This may have been done when the extension of the new family room was completed as the transition between the new roof and old roof is so seamless. According to Jane there was a large extension in the 1980’s that tied in quite nicely with the roofline and provided a generous living room, although it intersected the wrap-around verandah, and the interior finishes didn’t really co-ordinate with the rest of the interior.
(pic 3 Photo of Dot and Jack’s Mid Century Modern home. Judging by the unmade road this may have been taken in 1962 or 1963)
(pic 4 – Real Estate agents listing photo by Maxwell Collins Real Estate)
From the original floorplans we can see that the home was a lot more modest than today’s home, and consisted of just two bedrooms, a lounge room, a large eat-in kitchen, a bathroom, a WC, a laundry and a “spare” room, possibly a study or utility room. While Dot and Jack’s new home was modest in size by today’s standards they built with quality materials that have stood the test of time. Jane told me “Everything is of the highest standard as they loved only good quality…from German glazing, reinforced concrete for nearly the whole top floor, cypress pine and Castelemaine slate.”
(pic 5 Original blueprint floorplan and front elevation)
(pic 6 Original blueprint siteplan and side elevation)
Some of the external features in these original elevations were never built such as the Castlemaine slate cladding, which was used in the kitchen.
(pic 7 Side elevation showing wrap-around terrace and original butterfly roof prior to the family room extension)
(pic 8 Contemporary side elevation from a similar angle of photo 7 showing family room extension taken from Google street view)
Despite the lifetime of memories Dot’s family has reached the difficult decision to put the family home on the market. Due to the double block, the corner site, and the elevated position this property is prime real estate for cashed up developers, and is at real risk of being purchased for redevelopment into townhouses. Unfortunately the family’s hands are tied and there is nothing they can do to prevent the new owner from demolishing the family home.
While the home is a lovely example of a mid-century home with lots of the original interior still intact, as Dot and Jack built it back in 1962, it is not special enough, or unique enough, to be considered a heritage building. Many people still think of heritage buildings as those which were built before the start of the 20th century. I fear that one day society will wake up and ask what happened to all of the mid-century modern homes, as there won’t be any left…..
(pic 9 – open riser stair and wrought iron balustrade)
Thank you Jane for letting Secret Design Studio share your grandmother’s home, and let us hope that the new owner loves it as much as Dot loved it. Here is the link to the real estate agent’s listing if you would like to buy Dot and Jack’s house:
The auction is Sat 11th November 2017.
If you are in Melbourne or Sydney and are interested in our “Dr Retro House Call” service then here is a link:
(pic 11 Koi pond)
(pic 12 Koi pond)