The Old Victorian

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Drummond Street, Ballarat

I first became obsessed with home histories in 2002. I was planning a trip back home to Australia and I found a 1970 biography about my aunt Joan Rosanove. The first chapter gave up the address of the house where my father was born in Ballarat, a large town northwest of Melbourne. My grandparents died years before I was born, and I never knew my aunt, but I was intrigued by a paragraph that described my father’s mother, Ruby. Apparently she was quite eccentric, at least that seems to help explain some of the odder features of her house.

I found the house easily enough, an old Victorian painted mud yellow, sitting behind a picket fence painted the same colour. Cast-iron lacework decorated the front of the house and ran along a verandah supported by fluted iron pillars. The current owners let me look around, and I filled them in on 30 years of their home’s social history. They’d raised five children in the house, and thanks to the book and Ruby, I was able to solve their 20-year mystery as to why there were a number of doors that led nowhere. Apparently, as each of Ruby’s eight children moved away, she had their bedrooms lopped off the house. I can’t find anyone who can tell me why.

This family story was the starting point for At Home with History: the secrets of Greater Vancouver’s Heritage Houses

© All rights reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, all blog content copyright Eve Lazarus.

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  1. We bought our new home which is from 1887 and has been remolded a few times (as you can imagine after nearly 125 years. There is not much official history on file, but we have been gathering a few stories from local papers and learned among other interesting facts, that the house was built on viking ground and they have found original viking relics on the property. We (personally) have found nothing yet, but there is still hope :). Even if we never find any relics, it is fun to learn about our home and trying to get some more information about who has lived here and what the house has been used for. It was once owned by a blacksmith who was also known to have made iron sculptures out of old horseshoes?
    Every place has a story behind it or maybe 2 or 3!

  2. I live at 507 Drummond St South – the street being divided into North and South at Sturt St. I quickly ran off and took some pics, of 207 Drummond St South (the weatherboard) then went on and took a shot of 207 Drummond St North, which is a Victorian brick. Drummond St South was more workers wooden cottages; my house is a miners cottage built to service the gold mines operating near the end of Drummond St South. You must be certain that the house was weatherboard but haven’t given the full Drummond St address (North or South). If they were well heeled and lived in Webster St (one of Balla-arats finest streets) it’s almost unusual that they would choose to build on the south-side, but certainly the land would have been less expensive. The northern houses are associated with High-Victorian’s, grander facades, and superior workmanship.

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