‘Funston House’ 34 Hardinge St, Beaumaris VIC

The air in this one is thick with memories, scents and the spirit of original Beaumaris bohemia. Bouncing off the curtains, beamed ceiling and wildly angular spaces one can almost hear the late night froth and thrash of ideas, barefoot guests, wine being poured and LPs turned. Such antipodean poetry the very germination and flourish of which, in the stifled anglo banality of 1950s Melbourne, must have been like a daisy in a city footpath crack – surprising, bright and vital.
We sadly fear the worst for this untouched host turned vestige of such indie, historical scenes as it paris off with its more standard built counterpart to be sold on the same day. What to say? Times marches on and the relics of small but important cultural instances are so often left scattered and forgotten in the thrum. *sigh*

‘Nissen House’ 56 Cloris Ave, Beaumaris VIC

Sweeping the socials in the last day or so is this unmitigated triumph of preservation and restoration, totally worthy of celebration. The vision of local Beaumaris resident architect Barnard Hanmer for a Dr & Mrs Nissen who commissioned this dynamic home of daring split levels, soaring voids, built in furniture, planters and sensational ‘Besalite’ brickwork in the late 1950s and was completed in 1961. Rare and progressive back then, it made the pages of House and Garden magazine in 1963 who stated:

“Split level designing, open planning and high ceilings give unusual architectural interest to the home of Dr and Mrs Nissen in Beaumaris. Architect B.K Hamner designed a house that is distinctly apart from run-of-mill planning because that the way their clients wanted it.”

 And now in full restored and expanded bloom at the hands of appreciative and knowledgable owners, it once again makes waves having appeared in the recent Beaumaris Modern Book which featured some of the best MCM homes (still standing) the suburb has to offer. We cannot stress how much of a success this home is – already of esteemed architectural brilliance it has run the valley of developer death and come out not only saved but victorious at the other side and is now selling in a market much more receptive to such glorious Modernist dwellings (with no small thanks to readers like yourselves and owners like these). This residence is a showcase one for us Mod folk to enjoy as an excellent example of Australian architecture and for those yet uninitiated, to clearly see why we love it so. 

*Thanks to MCDA for the vintage image and Home Beautiful quote.

Another loss

Shattered we are this morning to see the report from Beaumaris, where one our absolute favourite, architect designed and immaculate houses we listed back in 2016 has been knocked over to make way for townhouses. See our original listing here.

 

To say nothing of those magnificent mature trees and landscaping.

All of the beautiful and lost artistry of joinery, tiles, fittings as well as the valuable timbers have not been retrieved.

All is rubbish. All is skipped and bound for the tip. And the more all damned we are for allowing a society to become so feckless and wasteful.

‘Abrahams House’ 372 Beach Rd, Beaumaris VIC

And here we find ourselves again, at the residence continually eddying in the simmering centre that is the heritage V developer cauldron of Bayside Melbourne. We have listed this absolutely sensational residence of pedigree and prominence at least twice before. Twice before thinking its time was nigh and twice before making the call for a true Modern warrior to set to work within the beautiful lines and materials created here in 1961 by architect (and leading firm partner), Arthur Russell. It transpired the last buyer was not so – putting forward a sub-divison plan which (to our minds thankfully) failed, leaving this home surviving yet another round of the Modernist wars. With this development ‘loss’ in mind, the growing band of Mid-Century Modern enthusiasts growing exponentially and a rich vein of creative couples families and solo masters available to marvellous Melbourne; we again put out the call for a deserving buyer. We’re posting some pics from its first sale years ago to whet the appetites and fire the synapses of those who know true Modernist beauty (and location) when they see it. Sure it is tired. Sure it needs love and care. But it is a grand, unbending survivor which should finally receive the recognition and restoration it deserves and which is so brutally denied to many others in the ‘hood.

Xmas Wishlist #1 : Beaumaris Modern book

The rise of Beaumaris Modern, the preservation/celebration community residing in primo bayside Melbourne, has been a heartening development in the recognition and fight to secure our Australian Mid-Century Modern legacy. In just a couple of years this passionate gang of go-getters have evolved from appreciation website to local activists to open house & festival organisers extraordinaire. We’d urge anyone across the country who see their own patch being deformed by poor planning, negligible heritage assessments, unchecked ‘development’ and ignorant (and/or venal) councillors would do well to contact the leaders at Beaumaris Modern for a pep talk, direction of how and where to take the MCM fight and also when to spare negativity for more inclusive celebration (flies, honey etc).
The next stage of their increasing footprint is in-print with the timely arrival (for all your Christmas needs) of ‘Beaumaris Modern’ an absolute stunner of a publication. This lovely and sizeable book is a walk through some of the best residences in the Victorian crucible of MCM talent, and man-o-man what homes! A collection of cherished residences from the likes of Robin Boyd, Mockridge Stahl & Mitchell, Martin Sachs and David Godsell with in depth descriptions from BM lead, Fiona Austin, with contributions by Alison Alexander, Built Heritage oracle Simon Reeves and impeccable photography by Jack Shelton and Derek Swalwell, all delivered in the confines of sleek, hardcover, Modern graphica.

You can peruse and purchase a simply limitless number of flickable tomes about MCM design from overseas from UK Brutalist public housing to Fire Island Modern to Case Study Houses but it sure is nice to have comparably beautiful publications about our very own backyard and design heroes. As Molly says; do yourself (or the archi nerd in your life) a favour and check it out.

‘Beaumaris Modern’ will be released on the 1st December and is available for pre-order now.

‘Grant House’ 14 Pasadena Ave, Beaumaris, VIC

As we comfort ourselves with the news that one of Melbourne’s most original and worthy MCM homes has been saved via purchase on the open market, we sadly have to sound the sirens yet again. Just across the way from Boyd’s Bridgford House, sits this home by yet another long standing luminary Peter McIntyre, a commission for a Mr Alan and Barbara Grant c.1956. Made manifest by the true Modernist spirit and circumstances of its time, this residence was a one of McIntyre’s experimental responses to shortages of materials and expanding postwar housing demand. Its simple layout of living and sleeping zones coupled with renegade construction techniques of flexible, non-load bearing walls topped with a marvelous bow-truss ceiling had the needs of low-cost, mass-production potential in mind whilst thoroughly speaking to the new, casualised Australian way of life. The essentially original and tidy condition of this home is almost unreal for the suburb and it’s strikes the heart with a hard pang to know, once again, there is nothing planning-wise in place for this home to protect it from the bulldozer. Indeed word on the street is (at present) only developers have shown an interest in this wonderful, historical property with all of the worst intentions that implies. So we make the call. There is so much this home could be whilst remaining intact. There is room for a freshen up, a sympathetic refurb and possibly even extension with the right professionals at the helm. Anything is on the table to keep this home upright with integrity intact. Such a testament to our build heritage and its architect, one of the last MCM legends we still have with us, is worth considering. Share this one far and wide people.

48 Gareth Ave, Beaumaris VIC

First in a pair of steadily ageing offerings. Both homes still hint at their previous lives as glorious bastions of the new Australia in the 1950s, though now they have fallen into disrepair maybe from a few too many parties, but more likely just like us all – neglecting our bones, surfaces and furnishings until it’s getting dangerously late to turn it all around. Despite this, well worn and well loved Gareth here still has all the makings of a new man about town and it is indeed thrilling and a comfort to see such a down-at heel fella getting a great MCM sell from the agent, though only time will tell of his eventual fate.

140 Reserve Rd, Beaumaris VIC

We haven’t visited Beauie in a while though the endless parade of worthy homes continue to pop up there. This little ripper however could not be denied. With a face to launch a thousand ships (off the bay) and an interior needing very little to make it a forever home, we believe some sensitive MCM soul will fall in love with this residence and be welcomed into the open arms of the local Mod tribe. One can hope.

7 Ward St, Beaumaris VIC

Off the back of our last post on Beaumaris Modern, here is an example of the everyday Mid-Century joy to be found in that suburb. A wonderful family residence with plenty of living zones and bedrooms in a deceptively simple floor plan with featured Modernist sophistication – mirrored bar, beautiful timber joinery and walls and flush, unadorned fireplace. Outstanding already but with so much potential for the full MCM do-over too, this one certainly deserves a loving, ‘forever’ family.

Beaumaris Modern

‘Thomas House’, 27 Mariemont Avenue Beaumaris. Chancellor & Patrick Architects. 1960. Status; recently sold, very endangered. Image from Beaumaris Modern.

The Melbourne bayside ‘burb of Beaumaris has always has a small but intense collective of MCM soldiers to protect its rich but at-risk vein of architect designed residences built between the 1940s – 1980s. In keeping with last week’s watershed moment where it seems the entire country raised their voices, formal council objections, blogs posts, news articles, tweets and social media commentary in support of Kagan’s Lind House just over the way in the City of Glen Eira, we would like to give a shout of the Beaumaris Modern who are mobilising and taking their preservation and appreciation efforts to the next level. We were going to suggest that all those in the Bayside area (or greater Melbourne) especially newbies who are not quite sure what they know, but know what they like in the MCM homes they may spot on the street or in the homes mags, to come on down to the first celebration and open house from Beaumaris Modern. This is the first of many new adventures BM are undertaking to raise the architectural profile of their beautiful area, and attempt to open more eyes to the residential treasures in their midst;

“Join Beaumaris Modern for a night of ‘oohing’ and ‘aaahing’ over some of the most stunning examples of mid-century modernist exteriors, interiors & gardens in Beaumaris. With an introduction by special guest Tim Ross of Streets of Your Town (TV series) and Modernister Films fame, our inagural event promises to be a showstopper.Doors open 7.30pm. After the ‘slide show’, stick around to enjoy a drink & a chat with like minded, passionate mid-century fans.”

Now, we say ‘were going to suggest’ because this event with capacity for over 100 people, has sold out in days! There is no more room at the inn for interested parties – proof enough that the love of MCM and the desire to celebrate and protect it grows daily. Of course there will be more funtimes planned by Beaumaris Modern in the future, so we’d suggest you show your support by getting on board via their FB or Intsa – and make sure you don’t miss out on the next extravaganza.