The Victorian era ran from 1837 to 1901.
The most relevant years when it comes to Stonnington’s architecture was the latter part of the ‘late Victorian’ period from roughly 1880 to 1900, when suburbs such as Prahran, Windsor, South Yarra, Armadale and Malvern were largely established.
Fortunately, a great many of these beautiful homes still exist, with some heritage overlay protected streets such as Cambridge Street in Armadale consisting of nothing but single fronted Victorian cottages from the 1880s. Very charming.
It’s amazing to consider that many of these timber houses from 135 years ago still have the original Baltic pine floors, block fronted weatherboards, iron lacework and fireplaces from when they were first built as workers’ cottages to house the staff of the large local estates.
These days fully renovated examples in Cambridge Street sell for as much as high $2m’s on just over 200sqm.
So why are Victorian homes so popular?
One could argue that they are, overall, more desirable than their successors – Federation and Edwardian homes. Although each to their own.
(Disclaimer – the below are observations, generalisations and simplifications for illustrative purposes only. Houses are like people… No two are the same).
Victorian homes are pretty. They have a high level of ornamentation, symmetry, grandeur (height) and character, which tends to culminate in great street appeal. The late Victorian era in particularly saw the peak of embellishment and opulence, with grand marble fireplaces, intricate filigree, arched hallways, elaborate ceiling roses and generous rooms.
Victorian homes tend to be bright. They are often set high off the ground on bluestone foundations or timber stumps, with large windows and high ceilings letting in more light.
In our market, Victorian homes are more often than not freestanding, as we don’t have a great number of terraces unlike other parts of inner Melbourne and Sydney. As freestanding homes are typically more desirable than semi-detached homes, this may also contribute to their popularity in Stonnington.
Victorian homes are easier to renovate. The simplicity and symmetry of the Victorian floor plan – typically two or four big front rooms branching off a side (single front) or central (double front) hallway – means you can keep the original rooms and knock off the back section to build a new extension.
Finally, Victorian homes are rare, becoming rarer. Heritage overlays protect some streets but not others and Victorian houses continue to be demolished to make way for new developments. Given that you can’t replace them, Victorian houses will only become more scarce and desirable as time goes on.