Elizabeth Bay House

Address: 7 Onslow Avenue Elizabeth Bay NSW 2011
Phone: 02 8239 2211
Email: info@hht.net.au

Tags: museum, historical, entomology, lectures

Can’t afford your dream house? Neither could Colonial Secretary, Alexander Macleay. He had the vision to develop the site from 1826 onwards as a fine landscape garden and build Elizabeth Bay House – then dubbed ‘the finest house in colony’– but his children asked 'where was the money to come from?' Macleay’s life long obsession with entomology plus the loss of his government post in 1837 required him to seek numerous loans from his eldest son William.

Over the years the grand old house was vandalised, partly demolished and finally divided into 15 studio flats, garrets for the artists who flocked to Kings Cross. From 1928 until 1935 it acted as a kind of cheap boarding house for the Sydney ‘Charm School’ artists, who included Wallace Thornton, Rex Julius and Donald Friend. The gardens, on which Macleay lavished so much love, have long since gone to property developers, but the beautiful house (now run by the Historic Houses Trust) still breathes noblesse, wealth and good taste. Rooms are furnished as they would have been in its heyday, 1839-45.

The house was once surrounded by an extensive 54 acre garden and described as a 'botanist's paradise'. Alexander Macleay was a renowned gentleman scientist who established a significant library and entomology collection and had extensive interests in botany.

Admission $8; $4 reductions; $17 family. Credit (over $10) MC, V.

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