Time to name drop
One of the earliest architects to purchase land in Beaumaris, Eric Lyon, commented that there were over 50 architects living in Beaumaris in the 1950’s. A 1956 publication from the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects quoted Beaumaris as having “the greatest concentration of interesting houses in the metropolitan area”.
Some of Australia’s best known architects designed their earliest homes in Beaumaris: Grounds Romberg & Boyd, Peter McIntyre, Neil Clerehan, Chancellor and Patrick, Yunken Freeman, John Baird, Mockridge Stahle Mitchell, McGlashan Everist, Anatol Kagan, David Godsell and Peter Carmichael to name but a few.
Similarly, some of our country’s most well regarded designers and artists either grew up or lived in Beaumaris. Fashion designers Sally Brown, Linda Jackson, Pru Acton. Artists Leonard French, Clarice Beckett and Arthur Boyd. Fabric artist Michael O’Connor. Architect and historian Mary Turner Shaw. Graphic designers Frank Eidlitz and Brian Sadgrove. And musician Colin Hay.
Interestingly, the designers of Becco light fittings which graced most mid-century houses (particularly Boyd houses) in the 1950’s and 60’s were designed by Brown Evans who lived in Beaumaris, as did the designer of the famousPlanet lamp, Bill Iggulden.
Sadly, 30 years ago, while the rest of Melbourne was busily writing heritage reports to preserve Victorian and Federation style houses and streetscapes in South Melbourne, Middle Park, Albert Park, The Gascoigne Estate, North Carlton and Fitzroy, mid-century modern architecture was not considered. Due to the fact that many of the mid-century houses being built in Beaumaris were ‘one offs’ – they were often experimental. So once demolished, there wasn’t a similar house next door as is often the case with Victorian and Federation architecture.
In Beaumaris, architects were using new materials including the Boyd-designed Stegbar Window Wall, to let in light and garden views. Carports were placed at the front of the house to allow for the garden views, houses were placed on the block to gather northern light, and roofs were often flat or skillion, with large eaves. Inside, houses were open plan, full of colour and modern patterns and often featured Becco light fittings and Featherston furniture. But remarkably, none of this was seen as significant enough to consider these homes for heritage listing.