Toxteth Park, complete with forest, orchard, cricket pitch and water pond, began to be subdivided in the 1880s. The 1895 subdivision created Avenue Rd and cottages began to be built either in Federation style or a transitional mix of Italianate and Federation style.
The first houses in Avenue Rd were built up the hill close to the Gatehouse – Number 19 was built over 1897-8. It is a good example of the ‘transitional’ style moving from Italianate to Federation with a few Victorian elements thrown in.
For this reason, it briefly features in Bernard and Kate Smith’s The Architectural Character of Glebe (1973) and they draw attention to the following features:
- Its symmetry and stuccoed, faceted bay windows which are common in Italianate buildings – e.g. St Helen’s Community Centre on Glebe Point Rd.
- The simple half-moon ironwork motif for the small front gables which was a favourite Federation device.
Inside, there is also a mixture. The ceiling roses in the lounge- dining room still have the elaborate fruit theme of an earlier time, while the roses in other rooms are simpler.
In the large front bedroom there is a pressed tin ceiling in the ‘Clarence’ style which became very popular through this period. Imported panels had been first brought from Germany by Ernest Wunderlich who, by 1899, had a wide ranging catalogue of styles, used in the Town Hall, hospitals and schools, as well as homes.
The house today is substantially in its original built state. In 1927 it was described as having: ‘7 rooms + kitchen + bathroom + box room. Front and rear verandahs. Electric light, gas and fuel stoves’.
The back has had various additions .The most significant was the construction of the large (and wonderful) rear, north facing verandah in (we think) the 1980s – replacing the much smaller porch. This was done at the same time for numbers 15, 19 and 21 by the same architect – though probably different builders. All three verandahs were designed to match their front verandah architecture – thus the rear bullnose roofing for this verandah.
We bought the house in 1991. It was run down but with no major structural problems. The large cedar door which had divided the main front rooms was – and still is – missing. In 1992 we had a major restoration of the house – eg rotten cedar in the gables and elsewhere replaced with identical cedar moldings produced on site; plaster ceilings repaired, rewiring etc. Some time later we had the kitchen and the study (small bedroom) opened up onto the verandah and we renovated a very basic second bathroom downstairs.
The current garage replaces the original laundry and (presumably) storage room. The old coal cellar is still there.
Some work was done at some stage by prior owners to begin excavating underneath the house to create extra rooms. Apart from upgrading the bathroom we have not excavated further and have simply laid concrete in two more rooms to create safe storage space and a small gym.
We were told – but have not researched to verify – that the garage and other rooms/spaces downstairs were previously occupied and that at some stage there was a separate carport/garage on the lower side of the backyard.
The house has significant nearby features
In our first few years of residence we discovered we had a stream running underneath – which occasionally used to surface. The light-rail tunnel runs under the adjoining houses and very close to us at the corner of Park Ave and provides regular background noise.
We also have the splendid Toxteth House across the road. Since the removal of the high brick fence it is hard to find a better spot for the end of day G&T than on the front verandah of number 19.
House names, people and gossip
The house has had at least four and maybe five names over its 120 years: 1897-1906 Pauline and William Deane named it Kharkov; 1907-12 John T Cains changed it to Llandillo; 1913-24 Mrs Margaret Clarke changed it to Darrah; 1926-45 Henry R Coulson and family – devout Methodists – no recorded change; 1945(?) MP Dan Minogue and family renamed it Clare. There is also a reference to Gladhora when owned by William Arnott solicitor – but we have (at this stage) no more information. We note that the Smiths thought Llandillo was the original name.
When we purchased the house in 1991 from the Olups, it was nameless. We later found the Clare name plate under the house. This was gifted to a Minogue grandson who came with his children to visit and reminisce sometime in the 1990s. Currently the house remains nameless.
The Russian connection
‘Kharkov’ was a Russian town (now Ukrainian) and the birthplace of Pauline Charlotte Deane (née Albert) who, along with her husband, William John Deane (born in Albury) were the first residents of 19 Avenue Rd. The reports of their 1896 ‘musical’ wedding at St Mary’s Cathedral suggest a classy couple: ‘both were musical people’– she was ‘dressed in exquisite white satin dress ’– and ‘till lately belonged to the Greek church but is now ‘a devout little Catholic’. There were 300 guests.
Whilst Deane was a music importer, it seems the money was hers – she was certainly the owner of their next house. Her father (Jacques Albert) was a major figure in the music business having music shops in Enmore, Newtown and finally, King St in the City. Pauline was also prominent in the music business, running ‘Pauline’s Song Shop’ in the city for over 30 years.
She was also clearly feisty. In 1918 Deane forbade her from seeing ‘another man’. She kicked him out and forbade him from entering the house. So she probably owned this house also. He threatened divorce in 1920 – it’s not clear if this proceeded. Several years later Deane petitioned in the divorce court for restitution of conjugal rights, noting he had not spoken to Pauline since being kicked out. He won and the court ordered Pauline to return to conjugal relations within 20 days. Who knows how that panned out!
She closed up her business in 1932. Of their five children, Albert became a movie executive, Olga acted at the Independent Theatre and Leona married Philip Geeves, a popular radio historian.
The Irish connection
Number 19 had one ‘famous’ owner – the Catholic politician Dan Minogue. Dan was born in Ireland in 1893 at Feakle, County Clare, Ireland. So again the house was named for a birthplace.
He tried for work in Melbourne before arriving in Sydney and gaining employment as a shunter at Darling Harbour rail yards. He worked as a carrier of blue metal and, about 1916, bought a produce store in Crown St. After his marriage he bought the White Horse Hotel in Surry Hills which he held for many years. He was a strong supporter of the Labor League and was prominent in the Redfern branch of the ALP.
He was a City of Sydney Councillor from 1938 to 1950 and the ALP member for West Sydney from 1949 to1969. During those years the house was a meeting place for the Catholic and ALP communities in the inner west of Sydney (a part mirror image of the role of Pat Hills in East Sydney). Minogue was associated with many charitable activities, supporting St Vincent de Paul, the Mathew Talbot Hostel for Homeless Men and Our Lady of Consolation Home for the Aged. He was an honorary citizen of Boys Town at Engadine and was instrumental in establishing a Home for the Aged at Glebe. Crescent St in Glebe was renamed Minogue Crescent in his honour as was a small park behind the Police Citizens Youth Club. There was also a pocket park named Minogue Reserve after him on the corner of Franklyn St
In 1966 he was an Australian delegate to the United Nations. He was keenly interested in football and cricket and was a member of the Catholic Club and the Irish National Association. In later life, he wrote an account of his life called A Rambler from Clare (1972).
Daniel’s wife Matilda Ellen Minogue died aged 58 at 19 Avenue Rd on 17 January 1954. Her funeral was held at St James. Minogue died aged 90 in 1983 – but we are not certain whether he still lived in Avenue Rd.