Immeasurably sad but in December 2017 my friend George Russell – actor, poet and world war two veteran – passed away. At last news, Lola is in care and the cottage is vacant with structural repairs required. Its future is uncertain. So regrettably this wonderful experience and tour is no longer available.
All things pass but at least many Melbournians were enabled by us over a 20 year period to share time with this marvellous Melbourne couple. And how they loved our visits! And we loved George and Lola.
You can read their their story through Lola’s book ‘City Kid’.
George always recited Shakespeare when we visited:
‘But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade’.
Meyer Eidelson, Melbourne Walks
AT HOME WITH THE RUSSELLS
ENJOY morning or afternoon tea and a tour of Melbourne’s oldest residence (330 King Street) and its surrounds. This incredible National Trust gold rush cottage built in 1850 is inhabited by George and Lola (OA) Russell. Lola’s grandfather bought it 120 years ago! The house is amazing.
LEARN about the Russells life and times – avante-garde actors, teachers, soldier and the epic struggle to save their precious home.
HEAR first hand from living witnesses to Melbourne’s history – eighty years growing up and residing in the heart of the CBD.
EXPLORE the history of nearby Flagstaff Hill and Queen Victoria Market and their former cemeteries.
Tours of the cottage and surrounds are 2.5 hours by arrangement. Includes morning or afternoon tea. Cost by inquiry. Tel: (03) 9090-7964; Mobile: 0408 894 724; email@example.com
HISTORY OF THE COTTAGE
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 2015 ‘City Kid’:
“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.