Glory days for terrace treasure
Spaciousness and decorative features are among characteristics of a North Tce home, writes Ben Hyde.
THE landscape of North Tce has changed much since 1881. A constant feature has remained at number 261: a commanding character home that now sits as one of only two stand-alone residences on the street. The other one is Government House.
Built when the city’s cultural boulevard was a residential street, the property has such 19th century decorative features as columns, pilasters, parapets, a mansard roof and a tower crowned with cast iron railings.
The Michell family has owned the property for a little more than 25 years but Mrs Michell says the interest was sparked long before this.
‘‘I’d been looking at it since I was a student and I used to admire it when I’d walk past it as a student,’’ she says.
‘‘The architect was William McMinn, who also designed the Mitchell Building at the University of Adelaide and the Governor’s residence at Marble Hill, and he designed such lovely buildings.
‘‘The architecture of it, I thought, was just beautiful and I loved its proportions.’’
The property has been home to notable Adelaideans, including architect Walter Bagot, who designed Bonython Hall and the Barr Smith Library at the University of Adelaide.
During World War II, the property served as a guest house and in the 1950s it was converted to a doctor’s clinic.
When the Michells bought the property in the 1980s, they set about returning it to a grand family home.
‘‘We’ve done a sensitive restoration to it,’’ Mrs Michell says.
‘‘It was always in good shape but it had lost its charm because it had been converted to doctor’s rooms for some period. It wasn’t that hard to get it back because it was such a well-built building.’’
A grand entry and stairway hall with a ceiling height of almost 12m is a precursor to the proportions evident throughout the property.
High decorative ceilings, intricate cornices, hallway arches and character fireplaces abound throughout the interior. ‘‘It’s an extremely beautiful building,’’ Mrs Michell says.
The ground floor features the original mahogany stairway and spacious formal rooms, including the north-facing library and drawing room and the spacious dining room.
Also downstairs is a kitchen loaded with cupboard and bench space, and an adjacent casual living and meals area.
A spiral staircase leads from the kitchen to an underground cellar of almost 25sq m.
The downstairs bathroom has a tranquil outlook over an atrium while there also is a detached laundry and storeroom.
Upstairs, a sitting room leads to a wrought iron balcony overlooking North Tce. There are four bedrooms, a study and a second bathroom.
The Michells say living on North Tce has afforded a convenient lifestyle.
‘‘It’s in such a prominent position and it’s convenient to pretty much everything,’’ Mrs Michell says.
‘‘Because it’s such a well-constructed building, it’s very quiet inside and you’re not conscious of the busy road outside.
‘‘We enjoy being here and we are only leaving because we feel it is too big for us now.’’
The property features off-street parking for up to four cars and a covered outdoor entertaining area.
Mrs Michell says the spaciousness of the rooms will be missed.