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Church Street, Hawthorn

This 1890's Italianate style mansion is one of Hawthorn's most famous houses and its tower, with a 360-degree view of Melbourne, has dominated the hill for more than a century.

This allotment on the south corner of Mason Street had been acquired by William Morton in the 1850's, from one of the first successful subdivisions in the district. The pioneer, Morton first built a weatherboard house that remained for decades, then apparently planned a grand two-storeyed house of fashionable red face brick with tower for the view, but there was some delay and a death in the family and the house was recorded as still unfinished in the Hawthorn rate book of 1891.

Huntingtower is likely to be the work of local architect John Beswicke, with its entrance under the tower and lavish cast iron verandah and balcony decoration. It was selected as the home of General Herbert Booth of the Salvation Army in 1896, then family home of draper, William Manson for years before becoming apartments during the Second World War. Major renovation works conducted in the last 18 months involved the kitchen being moved from the middle of the house. The former kitchen was converted into a larger area now comprising a dining and billiard room.

The hallway from the billiard room leads to a new kitchen, bathroom, laundry and open-plan pantry. Note the large coloured glass mosaic lampshade in the hallway.

The new bathroom (and most other rooms) contains many recycled pieces located by the owners in second hand stores. The ornate basin stand was once used in a doctor's surgery and the 'buggy light' was originally used in a horse and buggy.

A small, curved iron stairwell leads to an open-plan pantry that takes you back in time. An abundance of storage for food and wine is provided within the exposed brick walls to the larder. Tucked under the stairwell is a compact laundry with a paved floor of the original bricks.

The old style kitchen has an atrium effect with many windows that allow for maximum natural light. There is a wonderful view of the surrounding garden and glass doors open onto the paved area that leads to an artist's studio. Walls are painted in 'Red Ned' which creates a warm atmosphere and there is a large deep green AGA stove that continues the early Australian theme, as does the collection of old style plates. This space has been designed to reflect the original conservatory where the Salvation Army created, what we believe, are some of Australia's first films and to inspire further creativity today.

The delightful garden is featured in many of owner Rick Matear's artworks and murals found throughout the house.