One of the most remarkable homes built in Australia during the 19th century is called Labassa.
The opulent interiors of this thirty-five-roomed property are decorated in the style of the French Second Empire. The mansion was designed by architect John Augustus Bernard Koch for a wealthy businessman named Alexander Robertson.
Inside, it has a remarkable trompe l’oeil ceiling, mahogany timbers, beautiful stained glass, and wallpapers with gold embossed designs. Corinthian columns, arcaded verandas, classical design, and inset Italian marble panels can be found on the exterior of the building.
Labassa was the residence of Melbourne’s elite until 1920, when it was subdivided into flats. Since then, it has been home to a fascinating sequence of inhabitants, including the first Australian silent cinema actor to make it big in Hollywood. Visitors will find a rich and fascinating history around the unusual lifestyles of the bohemians and artists who made Labassa home throughout the middle of the twentieth century. This history will be revealed to visitors in the form of spectacular historical artifacts.
The lavish architectural details of the Victorian era may be found throughout the magnificent estate known as Labassa. It was formerly known as “Sylliott Hill,” but in the 1880s it was renamed “Ontario” in honor of its new proprietor, Alexander William Robertson, who was of Canadian descent. He commissioned John A. B. Koch, a German-born architect, to redesign the mansion in the style of the French Second Empire. Koch transformed the house into a mansion with thirty-five rooms as a result of his work. The inside is exquisitely decorated with faux l’oeil ceilings, trompe l’oeil wallpapers with gilded embossed designs, and beautiful stained glass.
After being renamed Labassa in 1904, it served as the primary residence of Melbourne’s upper-class citizens until 1920, when it was converted into apartments. One of the tenants was the first Australian to star in a silent film in Hollywood, and there were also other colorful bohemians living there. All of the guests who come to Labassa are awestruck by the superbly renovated interiors of the principal rooms, which make the home the most opulent of the few nineteenth-century palaces that have survived.
In 2013, more than 135 previous residents, owners, and their descendants got together for a reunion, which resulted to the launch of an ongoing research project into the unique living history of Labassa over the past 143 years.
Between the years 1862 and 1920, the town of Labassa was home to a revolving door of industrious and successful families. After those prosperous years, the building was subdivided into apartments and began to house a succession of new people with progressively lower incomes. These new tenants included Jewish refugees, world war heroes, socialites, and bohemian artists.
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