AT HOME WITH THE RUSSELLS
Enjoy morning or afternoon tea and a tour of Melbourne’s oldest residence and its surrounds. This extraordinary gold rush cottage built in 1850 is owned by George and Lola Russell. Lola’s grandfather bought it 118 years ago! The Russells are engaged in an epic struggle to save this precious home now surrounded by glass and steel towers. They are elderly. If you miss this tour you may never get the chance again.
It is a precious opportunity to hear first hand from someone who is a living witness to Melbourne’s history from eighty years growing up and residing in the heart of the CBD. They are great raconteurs. The tour also includes a visit to the 1850s Melbourne skyline from nearby Flagstaff Hill, and to Melbourne’s first two cemeteries at Flagstaff and Queen Victoria Market.
Lola and George were avante-garde actors: Lola has an Order of Australia and George recites Shakespeare with little encouragement. The house is an amazing’ time-capsule’ and heritage listed by the National Trust. Melbourne Walks has been voluntarily helping Lola to publish her voluminous autobiography for the past three years so that it can become available on the public record. See pictures
Tea and Tour are 2.5 hours by arrangement at any time of your convenience. Includes Morning or Afternoon tea. Cost by inquiry. Tel: (03) 9090-7964; Mobile: 0408 894 724; email@example.com
From the Heritage Listing Report:
“328-330 King Street is of historical and architectural significance to the State of Victoria. is a two storey brick shop and dwelling, originally of four rooms, built in 1850. A two-room upper floor addition to the outbuildings appears to have been added in the 1880s, bringing the building up to the six room structure that it is today.The modest structure was constructed of cement rendered hand-made bricks, with a restrained cornice and Colonial Georgian fenestration. It is of historical significance as a rare survivor of the pre-gold rush period in Melbourne. The discovery of gold had such a dramatic impact on the development of Melbourne that any building surviving from the pre-gold era, particularly in a relatively intact form, must be seen as having considerable historic importance.As one of the oldest buildings in the CBD, it provides a significant physical link to Melbourne’s very early days as a frontier town, illustrating the character of the built fabric of the times. Its Georgian/Regency influences are relatively rare in Victoria, being more common in the early architecture of Sydney and Hobart. As such it demonstrates the development of architectural style in Melbourne, showing how the simple design and construction techniques of the colony’s early years were beginning to be influenced by more fashionable architectural influences….”Below is an extract from Lola Russell’s autobiography’City Kid’: (The Russells are seeking a publisher!! Do you know someone who wants to publish this unique book about Melbourne? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.)
“This is a story of Melbourne, and of growing up in it, of being fashioned into a person, of falling in love and making a career. Melbourne, as I knew it, when I was a tiny girl has almost disappeared, except in small cul de sacs hidden from view and not discovered by commerce. Gone are the cable-trams that rattled down Bourke Street, up to Parliament House, and out to St Kilda and Port Melbourne – this was our favourite run on a hot summer night. Mother would suddenly suggest a tram ride to revive our spirits and we would sit right in front of the driver on the part known as ‘The Dummy’. We would have to cling to our hats or let the wind blow through our hair as we spun down the steep hills of Collins Street or puffed up Bourke Street. It was particularly pleasurable if my father would join us; then we would go to Port Melbourne or as far as Elwood and spend a few hours on the beach, and I would fall asleep on his lap and he would carry me home in a blanket. Somehow the summers do not seem as hot as they used to be, nor the houses so intolerable in summer. Gone too are the stately verandahs that shaded the passers-by from the fierce north winds of those very hot dusty summers when we sat in school with wet handkerchiefs around our necks, careful not to let the eagle-eyed teacher detect us. There are so many things that are now slowly slipping away, and before they leave the memory I would like to record them, and to ask you the reader to love them as I do.
I was born on a cold July day, just after midnight on the 28th, in a private hospital, East Melbourne, an establishment run by a Nurse Broberg. By the time I was born my family had been living in King Street for a quarter of a century. My mother had married late in life and so I was destined to be an only child. I was brought up on the edge of the city – the bread and dripping end. From our bedroom window we could see the tall masts of the ships berthed at Victoria Docks, and on New Year’s Eve the horns of the ships could be heard, accompanied by the charming sound of the bells of St James Old Cathedral. The west side of Melbourne was the unfashionable side and remained neglected for years by the authorities, but is now becoming rather prosperous and referred to as the ‘West End’ in smart real estate advertising. “”