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Church Hill,
Hepburn Street, Hawthorn

The splendid Italianate mansion was built between 1885 and 1888 and is thought to be the work of architect, Mr. Billing. This area was very popular with doctors and the house remained a surgery and doctor's residence till the 1960's.

Built for South Australian, Dr John Sayer Nicholl it had a side surgery entrance, denoted as such in the leaded fanlight and a faded surgery sign over the bell push. The cast iron standard lamp is also linked to the house's medical past. Nicholl died in 1891 and the house passed to another doctor, Dr John E Andrews, Hawthorn Health Officer, who stayed here until well after the turn of the century. His successor was a Dr Leslie Kirsner.

The 1992 Hawthorn Heritage Study describes the house as a two-storeyed, stuccoed, hipped and slated roof villa set on an asymmetrical based plan and possessing a two-level cast iron return verandah which is set on a basalt plinth.

The dramatic growth in "Upper Hawthorn" (as this area was known) was unprecedented before the 1880's with the population growing from 6,000 to 20,000 in one decade. This growth was induced by the extension of the railway line to Glenferrie and the subdivision of the hinterland beyond the line. The building of the Municipal Hall (1860), The Post Office (1872) and St Columb's Anglican Church (1883) created new demands and new enterprises in Upper Hawthorn. Number six Hepburn was such an enterprise serving two functions, combining a domestic residence and a doctor's surgery.

Today the house has been restored as a grand family home with a large extension sympathetically constructed to blend with its original decorative "Italianate" style. The back section of the house has been extended in recent times. The "salon" feel the front section of the house holds has been cleverly maintained in the use of rooms spilling into each other, open spaces and full-length windows.

Four beautiful stain glass windows placed strategically around the house provide a warm wash of Autumnal colours. All depict native bird life. The front door is surrounded with coloured glass. On entry a stunning 10ft high window is situated directly ahead at the staircase return. A smaller turret topped window is in the drawing room. Finally the fourth, upstairs, on the wall opposite the staircase landing.

The stucco is painted in a self-colour which would have been similar to the original finish. The interior features some unusual period details highlighted by the tasteful décor. Victorian plasterwork including huge roses, deep gutter cornices, high skirting boards and corbels are used throughout the original part of the house.

The garden has recently been reworked providing for a more traditional design. Camellias and roses, silver birch and oak trees create an "old world" garden in keeping with the style of the house. A pierced spade-head picket fence surrounds the block.