The house was built in 1850 as Barham House for Edward Bernard Green (1809-1861) to the designs of John Gill architect. The mansion was built on large grounds and Victorian gardens with bay views.
It was later altered and extended with two symmetrical wings and renamed Eildon.
Eildon was altered in 1871 by a wealthy pastoralist, John Lang Currie (1818–1898) to the designs of Joseph Reed of the leading Melbourne architectural firm of Reed & Barnes (who also designed the nearby Church of the Sacred Heart and many other prominent Melbourne buildings - such as the Royal Exhibition Building). The house was built by John Currie, one of Victoria's largest landowners, for his retirement, in what was then Melbourne's most popular seaside suburb. The mansion was completed in 1877.
After John Currie's wife's (Louise) death, the mansion passed into other hands and as the prestige of St Kilda declined it was sold. In 1930, it was converted into a guesthouse. In the early 2000s it became a backpackers' hostel. Despite the property being used as a guest house and then used for backpackers, much of the grand interior of the building has survived, including sandstone, marble and timber mantelpieces, ceiling roses, bay windows and large basement quarters for servants and a cellar. John Currie died on March 11, 1898. His tomb can be found at the St Kilda Cemetery. He left an estate of 479,000 pounds to his wife Louise and his 5 sons and 3 daughters.
The house was built to view Port Phillip, and had extensive grounds in the back part of the building. After Louise Currie's death, these were sold off, and apartment blocks built on them, blocking off access to the back view of the house. The original stables can be seen beside the house on the right. There have been many questions about which was the front side and which was the back side of Eildon Mansion. After many years of research, it was found that the front yard has always been the front. Original maps from 1855, show Eildon mansion's front entrance was always from Grey Street. Indicating why the stables were situated close by Grey Street entrance on the right side of the property. There were 2 entrances to Eildon Mansion, one is still used by Eildon Mansion, the other is used by the next door property (to the left) - they took ownership of this part of Eildon's property back in the late 1940s. It was thought John Currie liked elaborate gardens on his properties, to entertain . Nearly all his properties had similar formats, small front yards and grand backyards. Eildon Mansion was no exception. At Eildon Mansion, he liked to take visitors for walks to the beach and then a lazy stroll back through his wonderful garden back to Eildon. This was also to admire the beautiful arches and pillars of the building. John Currie's daughter Henrietta, had her marriage celebrations at the wonderful ballroom at Eildon Mansion. John Currie also leased the Osborne house in Geelong (now owned by the council), and owned Lara House and Gala house which are both in Camperdown in Victoria. All wonderful houses too. The Lara property was a very important property for John Currie, as this is where his success a pastoralist was really established. Note: John Currie had many trips back to Scotland (where he was born) and was involved in two shipwrecks.
Alliance Francaise Ownership
Eildon Mansion was owned by Mr. Ferit Ymer from 1951 (He leased the property in 1950) until it was sold to the Alliance Francaise in 2006. Mr. Ferit Ymer and his wife Qerime Ymer, raised their 6 children at Eildon Mansion, while they ran Eildon Mansion as a boarding house. The Ymer family ran the boarding house successfully during the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. The accommodation was mainly for single or couple business people or new immigrants that arrived to Melbourne. In the later years the accommodation business declined, as did the quality of the building. Two of the owner's sons, Enver and Danny, undertook extensive restorations in 2004. They converted the business into a backpackers accommodation. In 2006 the house was bought for a reported $4 million by the Alliance Française. The Ymer family have been the longest residents to stay at Eildon Mansion -56 years. Qerime Ymer died in 2004. Mr Ferit Ymer died recently on the 27 July 2010 at Bairnsdale
The Alliance Francaise now use Eildon Mansion as its new Melbourne headquarters. The Alliance Francaise have also undertaken extensive renovations since purchasing Eildon. From 2006 until 2007, well over 1.5 million dollars was spent renovating Eildon Mansion. They have restored many additional areas of the property; opened all the partitions (these were placed to create more rooms in the 1930s); set up the mansion for their workshops; French classes, their libraries and a theatre room where the main kitchen used to be. They have re opened the magnificent ballroom, which is now used for functions & gallery exhibitions.
Eildon Mansion has become a sign of what has happened to St.Kilda over the years. Once a very classy seaside prestige suburb, it became very run down and in some places, derelict, to now a very cosmopolitan suburb, where hundreds of people go to live, see and enjoy.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Eildon Mansion.|
- Whiting and Co real estate agent's announcement of the sale, featuring photos of the building
- Alliance francaise Website showing photos of the interiors of Eildon Mansion
- Eildon Mansion Guesthouse