As one of Sydney’s oldest urban centres, Potts Point is a beautiful suburb in which to live and play.
And it has a long urban history, that stretches back to the early days of the colony, before the apartment blocks made their debut between the wars.
But in architecture, like life, nothing ever stays the same. Several impressive mansions were demolished over the decades to make way for the streetscape we’re familiar with today.
We take a look at four missing villas and stately houses that have been knocked down over the years.
Corner of Wylde, St Neot and Grantham Streets
Grantham House was one of Potts Point’s very first grand homes, built between 1837 and 1845 on the site of what is now St Neot Avenue.
Grantham’s owner, Felix Caleb Wilson, had acquired five acres of land from Justice John Wylde, whose name is immortalised in Wylde Street. He then set about building a grand residence in a Gothic Revival style to match Government House.
Constructed from Sydney sandstone and featuring turrets, in many ways Grantham resembled a castle more than a house.
Grantham House changed ownership several times over the years but for many years was the home of the Dangar family (for the record, Henry Dangar hailed from St Neot, Cornwall, hence the street name).
Grantham House was demolished in 1937 to make way for two apartment blocks, one of which still bears its name.
Fitzroy Gardens wasn’t always a public space. It was once home to at least three impressive homes and their grounds, one of which was Maramanah.
Built in the 1840s for shipping merchant Deloitte, Maramanah was soon sold to Anna Challis (familiar as yet another Kings Cross street name). It then passed through many owners, including the Hollander family who featured in Robin Dalton’s 1965 memoir “Aunts up the Cross”.
During the Second World War, Maramanah became a recreational centre for the US Navy and then a Royal Navy canteen. When the war was over, several returned servicemen and their families squatted in the 20-roomed mansion, demanding they be allowed to live in it. There was a lack of post-war housing, and the community supported them but the mood may have changed when it was alleged that Communist Party meetings were taking place inside.
Maranamanh was taken over by the City of Sydney, and operated as a hostel until the mansion and its grounds were added to the parcel of land from which Fitzroy Gardens was created and demolished in 1954.
81 Macleay Street
Featuring two lawn tennis courts and a large garden, Cairo started its life as a mansion called Prestonville and only became a hotel in 1911.
In 1929 Mrs JJ Copeman sold Cairo, at 81 Macleay Street, for £45,000 to Mr LH Hinks. According to The Sydney Morning, it was “his intention to erect a block of modern flats on the site”.
It was widely regarded as one of the most beautiful buildings in Kings Cross until it was knocked down in 1959 to make way for Sydney’s most cutting edge hotel.
Goderich Lodge was an imposing villa designed by architect John Verge and situated on the corner of Bayswater Road and Penny Lane in what was known as Woolloomooloo Hill. It was a two-storey villa with a wide verandah and shuttered sash windows.
It was built for New South Wales High Sheriff John Macquoid and named after a Secretary of State for the Colonies who would go on to become a future Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Unfortunately, however, things didn’t turn out so well for Macquoid. Overworked and struggling financially, he sadly took his own life in 1841, leaving his son Thomas Hyam to pay off his debts. In 1857, Hyan himself was killed in what became the early colony’s most infamous disaster – the Dunbar shipwreck.
Goderich also passed through many owners, including Surveyor General Samuel Augustus Perry and the Tooth brewing family. It was demolished in 1915 to make way for the former Hampton Court Hotel, now the Hampton Building.
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