Melbourne Architect Christopher Cowper

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14 Studley Ave Kew
71 Broadway, Camberwell VIC
7 Chrystobel Crescent Hawthorn
  • Born 1868; Died 1953 in South Yarra, VIC, Australia
  • Husband of Mary Agnes Cowper
  • Father of Lila Euryalus Price; Beryl Cowper and Maisie Cowper[1]
  • Christopher Alfred Cowper (1868-1954) was a prominent Melbourne architect, who lived in Hawthorn and is best known for the many red-brick Federation style houses he designed in the nearby Grace Park Estate, but he also designed flats (including Summerland Mansions in St Kilda, VHR H1808), theatres (including the Sun Theatre at Yarraville, VHR H679) and other commercial buildings. The garage was praised for its modern design.

Christopher Cowper was a significant architect in early 20th century Boroondara, best known for his extensive Queen Anne residential development in Grace Park, Hawthorn, as well as many other mid to large‐sized houses for the well‐to‐do residents of Kew and Camberwell, and other suburbs of Melbourne.

Cowper (1868-1954) was an architect and developer. He was born in Capetown and arrived in Melbourne in 1883.
  • As a teenager he was articled to Evander McIvor, architect of Gothic Revival churches.
  • During the 1895-1906 Depression he left architecture for farming, insurance sales and travel overseas, but development of the important Grace Park Estate, where 33 of his houses have been identified revived his architectural career.
  • There his Queen Anne style houses are distinctive for their Tuscan columns and tall, plate-top chimneys.
  • He was prolific over 1883-1954 in three different practices, including of some cinemas. His offices were in Collins Street

The Grace Park Estate

The Grace Park Estate was formed from several lots purchased by Michael or Julia Lynch between 1846 and 1847, forming grounds to Grace Park House, constructed before 1858.
Winning designs for Grace Park Estate
Winning designs for Grace Park Estate

  • After Michael Lynch's death in October 1871, Julia Lynch became the owner/occupier of the house and three acres.
  • In 1884 the Grace Park Estate was leased to the Grace Park Leasehold Syndicate headed by Henry Pyron Moore and was subdivided soon after into the broad serpentine street form of the Grace Park area.
  • Moore became insolvent in 1891 and there followed a series of convoluted lease arrangement until 1904 the Settled Land Act made sales possible. These commenced in 1904.
  • Architect Christopher Cowper bought and developed thirty-three allotments between 1908 and 1912.
  • An architectural competition for new buildings for this elegantly designed suburb, set a high quality homes in up to date designs, on large allotments.
    • The designs in the competition, some of which were built and those which came later, emphasised the open garden nature of the Estate by constructing houses which addressed at least two sides.
    • Extensive lanes to the rear kept horse/carriage and, later, car access away from the frontages and allowed the high amenity of the footpath promenade under tree avenues to dominate.
    • The centrepiece of the Estate was the creation of a Park, Grace Park on the lower lying land. Associated facilities for lawn tennis and cricket added status to an already desirable location, well served by train routes.
    • The curving railway easement to Kew was formed in 1887 but was in use for only a few years. This fortuitously reinforced the garden suburb planning by providing a park spine through the centre of the Estate.
    • Despite the economic conditions of the 1890s several properties were developed. In the twentieth century, the character set by the earlier development was reinforced with Queen Anne and Federation Bungalow designs often by architect/developer Christopher Cowper. By the end of World War One most land was fully developed and the distinctive character of the precinct was set.

Arden 1045 Burke Road Hawthorn East, VIC, Australia

Arden 1045 Burke Road Hawthorn East, VIC
Arden 1045 Burke Road Hawthorn East, VIC

A very large Queen Anne house with substantial land coverage to the ground floor and an extensive attic storey. The design addresses both Burke Road and Rathmines Road with prominent gable end treatment and, a strong corner emphasis via a splayed gable to the corner verandah.

The strong Queen Anne character is overlaid by some Art Nouveau inspired embellishment on the verandah valence, verandah balustrade and the cast iron to the fence. The walls are the regulation red brick, embellished only by render string courses. Gable ends are half timbered, the roof is terracotta tiled with particularly fancy ridge capping. The property is enhance by original brick and cast iron fence (recent ripple iron is an addition).

A new building on the corner of Burke and Rathmines Roads was recorded in 1906, the owner being C Goodridge of Wattletree Road, Malvern. The designing architect is unknown.

The architect for the residence has not been determined. It shows some of Christopher Cowper's design traits, but the complexity of the roof, suggests a different designer. This building is a typical for Queen Anne in its overwhelming emphasis of the corner. The incorporation of the entry here is particularly unusual, as is the small verandah for a hipped roof design type. These changes are a direct response to the prominent corner site and the coverage, the attention to a public address on both frontages, the use of a hedge and the increased garden area achieved by cutting off the corner, have combined to retain a strong sense of the house in a garden setting.
  • See page Arden, Hawthorn East, Vic
    Due for demolition
  • Listed for sale 08 May 2010
    'Arden' is an ornate tuckpointed brick Edwardian quietly secluded on a prime corner allotment spanning Burke and Rathmines Roads providing substantial family accommodation and excellent outdoor amenities including tennis court and in-ground pool.
    A doctor's residence for 60 years, 'Arden' retains magnificent original character with upstairs CBD skyline view while superbly updated for exceptional modern living.

Ballara, 49 Lansell Road, Toorak, Vic

Streetview, 49 Lansell Road, Toorak VIC 3142
Streetview, 49 Lansell Road, Toorak VIC 3142

While architect Christopher Cowper is best known for his Federation‐era designs, his interwar‐era work is lesser known today and the characteristics and defining works from this period have not been examined in depth but merit further study.
  • Cowper was a major architect in the area that is now Boroondara, including in the 1920s, and it is this that creates an association that is significant at a local level
  • While it this iteration of Cowper’s architectural career remains less studied and understood than his earlier Queen Anne house designs, and thus less valued today, the association with Cowper himself is certainly of significance.
  • This is both due to his long career of designing fine houses and commercial buildings in the Boroondara area, as well as his ongoing relationship with the Vial family, having designed their 1909 house on The Broadway. As recorded in Submission 5, the Vials were proud of their relationship with the architect and with his direct involvement in the design of their two houses
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Burnside House, 62 Riversdale Road, Hawthorn, Vic, Australia

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Constantia, 9 Hilda Crescent Hawthorn, Booroondara City, VIC


Constantia, 9 Hilda Crescent, Hawthorn VIC
Constantia, 9 Hilda Crescent, Hawthorn VIC

A single storey brick house of eight rooms, constructed in 1907, this is Cowper's own home.
A single storey Queen Anne house, part of a group in Hilda Crescent designed by Christopher Cowper (1 Hilda Crescent (1909), 9 (1907), and 15 Hilda Crescent (1910), and probably 21 Hilda Crescent, (1908) Hawthorn). Cowper reputedly also designed 11 Chrystobel Street and 13 Linda Crescent, Hawthorn.
  • This house illustrates what he found most attractive, in particular the corner turret, used on many of his designs, and the the vertical valence decoration terminating in an arch form. In this case the verandah arch is supported on stumpy columns not noted on his other designs.
  • The building is also interesting for the absence of Cowper's much used Tuscan columns, which are a strong characteristic of the urban form of Grace Park.

Former Hawthorn Motor Garage 735 Glenferrie Road, HAWTHORN, BOROONDARA CITY

Hawthorn Motor Garage (Hawthorn Historical Society)
Hawthorn Motor Garage (Hawthorn Historical Society)

The former Hawthorn Motor Garage at 735 Glenferrie Road is classified by the National Trust of Victoria.
  • It is now the oldest, surviving, purpose built garage in Victoria.
  • Designed by Christopher Cowper a prominent Hawthorn architect, it was built in 1912 for auctioneer Ernest Hill.
  • Essentially a long brick shed with a decorative face brick and render street façade, the main business was the storing, washing, repairing, hiring and selling of cars. In the days before kerbside bowsers it also sold petrol in cans stored inside, but this was a sideline to the main business.
The former Hawthorn Motor Garage is a single storey brick building which is now the oldest known purpose-built motor garage in Victoria.
  • The Hawthorn Motor Garage was commissioned from the architect Chris Cowper by the local auctioneer Ernest Hill in 1912.

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    Statement of Significance - National Trust of Australia (Victoria)
    The former Hawthorn Motor Garage, designed by notable architect Christopher Cowper, and built in 1912, is of State historical and architectural significance.
    Historically, it is the earliest architect designed motor garage known to survive in Victoria.
    It has historical significance in the evolution of the motor garage form as an early example of a purpose built commercial garage, its design reflecting the era when motor spirit (petrol) was dispensed in four-gallon tins before the advent of petrol pumps in 1916. The form of the building further demonstrates the motor-garage's not too distant relationship with Coachbuilding and repair workshops, being little more than a modern blacksmiths' shop.
    Architecturally, it is an interesting Edwardian commercial design, where an essentially flat facade for a shed-like building is given a distinctive quality and lively skyline by the use of a multiplicity of arched forms. The prominent arched entrance is echoed by a paired arched bays flanking it, which are capped by paired ball finials, and repeated again by the top arched parapet. It is also the first known commercial commission of the architect, Chris A Cowper, most noted for his contribution to the development of the Edwardian 'Federation' or Queen Anne residential style in the 1900s and 1910s.
  • Read more:


Residence, 15 Hilda Crescent Hawthorn, VIC, Australia

15 Hilda Crescent, Hawthorn
15 Hilda Crescent, Hawthorn

Hawthorn's famed Grace Park estate, characterised by distinctive parallel crescents and period villas in garden settings, is home to 15 Hilda Crescent, one of Hawthorn's most enchanting homes.

Designed by renowned Melbourne architect Christopher Cowper and built for George Bingemann in 1907, the home remained in the Bingemann family for 94 years before being purchased in a dilapidated state by the current owners in 2001.

A delightful example of the Federation style with its red brickwork, large gable and bay windows, the current owners have restored and revived the house, carefully preserving its period features and at the same time transforming the home into the modern example of family living it is today.
  • The house is entered via a gorgeous 'portico' which leads into the entrance hall, featuring an original 105 year old light fitting. From here, the entrance hall gives way to the sitting room on the right and parents retreat on the left.
  • The sitting room, with its magnificent bay window, beautifully framed with custom made drapes in Prestigious Textiles 'Gardenia' Antique fabric, affords a wonderful view across to the Grace Park gardens. This room also features an original light fitting and an inherited Campagna Concordia piano.
  • Immediately across the hall, leads to the parents retreat. The walls in this room have been papered in the stunning Lorca - Louisiane 'Coquine' wallpaper, giving the room an elegant yet modern edge. This room is also home to a beautiful ink on paper artwork, 'Invisible Cities' by Lisa Jones.
  • From here, the hall leads down towards the rear of the house, past the master bedroom, the children's rooms and a family bathroom, to the light and airy open plan kitchen, living and dining area, overlooking the sparkling pool and rear garden.
  • This is where the house takes on its distinctly modern edge. The kitchen is an entertainers dream - with its easy-access pantry, expansive polished concrete benchtops and glass splashbacks with Osborne & Little 'Trifid' wallpaper behind.
  • Across from the dining area is the living area, with its large, north facing glass doors which open out to the rear garden.
  • Read more: Idea backs up the grandeur

Residence, 14 Studley Avenue, Kew, VIC, Australia


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14 Studley Avenue, Kew
14 Studley Avenue, Kew

14 Studley Avenue, Kew, Vic 3101
14 Studley Avenue, Kew, Vic 3101

This elegant residence with a commanding corner position (1126 sqm approx) is a Studley Park landmark.
  • Designed by the renowned architect Christopher Cowper (1907), this heritage home set in mature landscaped gardens features vast rooms and a wealth of Arts and Crafts-inspired design elements, including large bay windows, coffered cedar ceilings and superbly crafted leadlights and open fireplaces.
  • Meticulously maintained and renovated by its owners of 40 years, here is one of exclusive Studley Park's most gracious properties, comprising a stunning reception/music room; baronial dining room; sitting room/4th BR with French doors to a 30m verandah with treed and city views; expansive informal living/dining (custom storage) flowing to northerly al fresco entertaining area and swimming pool

Residence, 19 Lisson Grove Hawthorn Boroondara City, VIC, 3122

Streetview, 19 Lisson Grove Hawthorn Boroondara City
Streetview, 19 Lisson Grove Hawthorn Boroondara City

The house at 19 Lisson Grove, Hawthorn, is of local historical and architectural significance as a good and relatively externally intact example of an attic storey Federation-era bungalow which demonstrates the transitional period from villa to bungalow architecture.
  • The house is atypical in its combination of bold symmetrical massing with a single-ridged gabled roof, as opposed to the more typical asymmetrical massing of the Queen Anne style.

  • The association of this house with its designer, the well-known and prolific residential architect, Christopher Cowper is of interest. The house is considered to be a good example of Cowper's work, which is well-represented elsewhere in the City of Boroondara.

Read more: Victorian Heritage


Residence, 22 Studley Avenue, Kew, VIC,Australia

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54 Mary Street, Hawthorn VIC 3122

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54 Mary Street, Hawthorn VIC 3122
54 Mary Street, Hawthorn VIC 3122

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Old Sale Listing
"Set on some 14,750 sq ft (approx.) of private gardens, the home comprises grand entry, formal sitting, formal dining, study, kitchen with meals area and 6 bedrooms. The established grounds include a swimming pool and a lock-up garage plus double carport."
54 Mary Street in Hawthorn is part of the wonderful Grace Park precinct. The land size is very good at just under 1400m2 and the block has excellent width.
  • Originally constructed in 1910, this was likely designed by architect Christopher Cowper, who did so many fine homes in this area. The great thing about this architect was that he had a fine skill in making houses appear older than what they were – using slate for roofing for example.
  • This house oozes class. The formal rooms are clearly the highlight, with grand proportions, classic detailing and beautiful outlooks onto tranquil northern gardens.
  • Street presence is very special here and symbolic of the Queen Anne style, which had very interesting roof forms and articulated facades. Where the house falls down, however, is to the rear where there is a series of small rooms, and a modern kitchen / informal living / dining area is much needed.
  • Bathrooms are small and the master bedroom deserves so much more in terms of amenity.
  • Read more: Adam's Architecture

Residence 7 Chrystobel Crescent Hawthorn, VIC, Australia

7 Chrystobel Crescent, Hawthorn VIC 3122
7 Chrystobel Crescent, Hawthorn VIC 3122

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Chrystobel Crescent was constructed around 1915 at the end of the second phase of development.
  • It is among the larger houses in the subdivision and adopts many of the commonly used features including: slate roof with terracotta capping; squat Tuscan columns on brick bases to the verandah; red brick work; multifaceted casement windows; a steeply pitched hipped roof with gable projections at two co-ordinates; and a serpentine path to the house set in a picturesque garden.
  • This building is distinguished by its attic storey, its use of rough cast with brick quoins to the walls, its size and its intactness (note that the attic storey has been filled in).
  • No architect has been recorded however it is highly likely that Christopher Cowper was involved in the careful design.

Residence, 40 Chrystobel Crescent Hawthorn, VIC, Australia

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Summerland Mansions 17-27 Fitzroy Street St Kilda, VIC, Australia


17a Fitzroy Street, ST KILDA VIC 3182
17a Fitzroy Street, ST KILDA VIC 3182

Summerland’s architectural design presents a strong presence to both Fitzroy and Acland Streets in a sophisticated blend of Stripped Classical, Mediterranean and English Arts and Crafts influences: a distinct departure from its architect, Christopher A. Cowper’s previous well-known Federation style particularly in the Grace Park Estate, Hawthorn, such as at 40 Crystobel Crescent and 62 Riversdale Road, built during 1903-12.
Cowper (1868-1954) was an architect and developer.
  • The Crespins commissioned Cowper’s design. It was built in two stages, both with façades symmetrical about a central entry.
  • The first block facing Fitzroy Street was completed in 1920. This comprised six shops and the dining room, facing the street.
  • Each flat was 175m², double the size of many houses at that time.
  • The cantilevered canopy extending across the Fitzroy Street front, suspended from long tie-rods at 45 degrees, back to second-floor level, is an early surviving example.
Four more flats, even larger at 200m² each, were built in the two-storied block along Acland Street, in the next year.
  • Post-war rents at Summerland declined, as the suburb became less fashionable. The property had remained in single ownership, but from 1954, flats were individually sold.
  • But in 1988, the apartments were carefully renovated by architects Peter Johnson and Tony Walliss. The sleep-outs were made permanent and rebuilt to a unified design. Summerland remains prime St Kilda real estate.
Summerland Mansions 17-27 Fitzroy Street St Kilda, VIC, Australia
Summerland Mansions 17-27 Fitzroy Street St Kilda, VIC, Australia

8/17a Fitzroy Street, ST KILDA VIC 3182, Image 1
8/17a Fitzroy Street, ST KILDA VIC 3182, Image 1


Summerland Mansions (boldly embossed on the second floor balustrade), could not be anywhere in Victoria, but St Kilda.
  • It is a type of building that gives St Kilda its unique character: mansion-flats, built in 1920 and 1921 right on the street frontage, with shops at ground level and initially with shared, serviced facilities and sweeping views. It is a type of urbanity, there generally higher rise, which is common in European cities such as London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna or Milan and in Sydney, but rare inMelbourne.
  • St Kilda has long been the place in Melbourne most associated with high density apartment living, particularly in the period after World War I, but these spacious mansion-flats were built for a wealthy clientele. They have mixed use, including street-level shops with welcoming plate-glass windows for the use of residents, locals and tourists.


17A Fitzroy Street, St Kilda
17A Fitzroy Street, St Kilda

For the first residents at Summerland its large rooms must have offered a sense of secure privacy, with views across the bay and the gardens.
  • Each flat had a screened porch, fully glazed sleep-out and balcony. Communal spaces such as a large accessible roof-top over the Acland Street section, for recreational, and clothes- drying use and the restaurant/dining room for residents’ use over Fitzroy Street. Flats had maid’s and service rooms accessed by their own tradesmen’s entrance and stair at the rear.

The accessible roof may have even been influenced by Le Corbusier’s Dom-ino system with its accessible roof of 1913-15, which was well-publicised, but it is particularly early example for Australia, even if it resulted from the Council’s requirement for 50% open space on a fully built-up site.
  • The restaurant/dining room was directly accessible to all residents from two internal stairs. Diners overlooked Fitzroy Street through large plate-glass windows. This meant the apartments needed only a small kitchenette.
  • Again this anticipated today’s expectations, when so many apartments offer small kitchens, in assuming frequent dining-out.

Many Summerland flats still have original design features: airing cupboards in the hall, built-in dressers dividing kitchen and dining room, hatches for milk and bread deliveries, kitchen servery hatches, tiled fireplaces, letterboxes and inset door-mats proclaiming ‘Summerland Mansions’.
  • Stair-halls have small-paned glazed screen walls to flats and matching timber panelling and are lit by lantern skylights in the ceilings: distinctly Japanese influences.
  • A feature was large flyscreened balconies for sleep-outs, at the rear of each block. Gradually and haphazardly these were enclosed to create additional bedrooms.
The market for Summerland apartments seems to have been for tenants who would have expected a butler and maid in their own house and continued to expect this level of service in a more urban context.[2]


The Gables, 1 Cedar Court Sandy Bay, TAS, Australia

The Gables
The Gables

The Cedar Court building is one of few examples of the Federation Queen style in Hobart. This example is particularly substantial and rich in adhering to the characteristics of the style. It is one of the most extensive surviving developments, and provides a significant contribution to the style in Hobart.

Cedar Court is one of few examples of Couper's work in Tasmania. Couper was a Melbourne based architect, and completed at least three large works in the Federation style in Tasmania. It is a prominent example of a dwelling that was originally set in a larger garden and surrounds.

The Gables is an example of Federation Queen Anne, designed by Architect Chris Couper (Melbourne) and constructed in 1911. Features inherent of the style and inclusive of this example are: an asymmetrical complex roof structure, which is noted in the three prominent offset gables of steep pitch which give it a vague Tudor feeling and terracotta roof tiles with ridge and apex ornament. The Gables has a half-timbered effect above the bay windows in combination with stucco in the gable ends. The timber work is scalloped and painted green.
1 Cedar Court, Sandy Bay
1 Cedar Court, Sandy Bay

1 Cedar Court, Sandy Bay
1 Cedar Court, Sandy Bay

1 Cedar Court, Sandy Bay
1 Cedar Court, Sandy Bay

1 Cedar Court, Sandy Bay
1 Cedar Court, Sandy Bay

The base is of the building is sandstone and the cement mortar of the external walls is a combination of half painted "Queen Anne Red" and the raw grey of the concrete mortar itself. This effect adds to the richness and is unusual in the knowledge that although concrete had been introduced for some time and cement mortars were in general use for exterior application, keeping with the avoidance of simplicity of the Federation Queen Anne style, "The Gables" example has stylised brackets for the projecting gables and turned woodwork verandah columns of the Tuscan order. The front facade features two round accent windows with multipaned toplights in projecting bays either side of the entrance porch.

Vial House, 23-25 and Part 27 Canterbury Road, Camberwell, VIC

The house at 23-25 Canterbury Road is a substantial and sprawling house set behind a large front garden at the corner of Canterbury Road and The Ridge.
  • The garden retains the original concrete drive which leads from the intersection (south-west corner), curves past the front façade of the house and then leads to the garage at the north-east corner of the site.
  • The garage at part of 27 Canterbury Road appears to be clad in similar materials to the house: roughcast render to the walls and concrete roof tiles to the hip roof.
  • The front garden comprises low hedge plantings (possibly rose bushes) along part of the front drive and up against the front façade of the house. In front of the house is a large expanse of lawn, with rows of semi-mature exotic trees along the south and west boundaries, providing a sense of enclosure. On the east side of the house and garden is a large clay tennis court.
  • A modern lych gate stands just inside modern metal gates at the south-west corner of the site. A modern high Colorbond fence has been installed along the south and west property boundaries, making the main view to the house via the corner gates.
There are hipped side wings, set back from the façade, and an L-shaped service wing at the rear. The house has two main chimneys along the front slope of the main roof which are rectangular, finished in roughcast render, with simple banding and terracotta chimney pots at the top.The house is single storey with a high hip roof covered in dark grey Marseille-pattern tiles.
  • The roughcast appears to retain an early sand-coloured limewash on it. There are another four chimneys of the same design to the rear of the house, visible from The Ridge.
The front façade displays a restrained, symmetrical composition with a loggia of three round arches set in the centre. It is finished in a warm grey roughcast render that either has never been painted or is covered only with a sheer wash.
  • The front steps, plinth and associated planter boxes below the loggia are of face brick (overpainted). The arches have restrained detailing with a neat incised edge in lieu of a raised moulded architrave.
  • On either side of the arcade is a bank of three double-hung sash windows in a box frame resting on simple brick corbels. The upper sashes have six panes above a single-paned sash, as was common for a range of styles in the early 1920s. Above the central window of each group is a round-arched tympanum expressed in brick headers (overpainted).
Streetview, Vial House, 23-25 and Part 27 Canterbury Road, Camberwell
Streetview, Vial House, 23-25 and Part 27 Canterbury Road, Camberwell

Comparative Analysis

The house at 23-25 Canterbury Road is an early example of the Interwar Mediterranean style in Boroondara and more widely in the metropolitan area. As discussed in the history, this style was influenced by classical Italian and Spanish forms and precedents.

There is often crossover between this style and elements of the concurrent Georgian Revival, particularly the use of dominant hip roofs and louvered shutters. It also has some relation to the more embellished Spanish Mission style, which has similar massing and use of loggias but is also characterised by multiple decorative flourishes such as ogee parapets, twisted columns, Cordoba roof tiles and cast-cement reliefs.

Houses owned or occupied by George Vial:
- 71 Broadway, Camberwell (Significant in HO159), designed by architect Chris Cowper in 1909 (Butler, 1991:42).
- 23-25 Canterbury Road, Camberwell, designed by architectural firm Chris A. Cowper, Murphy & Appleford.
- 107 Mont Albert Road, Balwyn (Argus 15 Mar 1939:2). Chris A. Cowper, Murphy and Appleford, architects

Wongrabel 71 Broadway Camberwell Vic 3124

  • Built about 1901
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71 Broadway, Camberwell
71 Broadway, Camberwell

71 Broadway, Camberwell
71 Broadway, Camberwell

71 Broadway, Camberwell
71 Broadway, Camberwell

"Standing proudly in one of Boroondara's finest tree-lined streets, 'Wongrabel' c1901 is a gracious Federation residence in the Queen Anne style on an established garden allotment with ROW access. A magnificent address in the Russell Estate.
  • Enjoyed by the one family for almost 45 years, this imposing 5 Bedroom residence retains its heritage integrity and comfortable ambience while inviting fresh ideas to renovate for a future of refined modern family living. Land: 24.3m x 60.9m (80' x 200') approx."
  • Listing for sale: Sold Date: Sat 29-May-10
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Christopher Cowper's Work

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Chris A. Cowper, Murphy and Appleford, architects

His key works after 1906 include the 33 houses for the Grace Park Estate in Hawthorn (HO152), which George Tibbits described as ‘a sanctuary of houses in the Melbourne Queen Anne manner’. He designed many other houses and several commercial buildings within Boroondara and other middle-class Melbourne suburbs such as Brighton, South Yarra and St Kilda (Logan 2012:179). His work included houses at
  • 62 Riversdale Road, Hawthorn (HO112, c1910),
  • 71 Broadway, Camberwell (HO159, 1909),
  • 14 and 22 Studley Avenue, Kew (both Contributory to HO143), and
  • 14 or 16 Stawell Street (corner Barry Street), Kew (both Contributory to HO143).
Apart from houses, he was also responsible for innovative designs such as
  • the Hawthorn Motor Garage (1912, VHR H2296), and
  • Summerland Mansions, St Kilda (1920, VHR H1808)
After 1915, Cowper appointed his young associate Gordon Murphy as the office’s chief designer. In 1921 he formed Chris A. Cowper, Murphy and Appleford with Gordon Murphy and young draftsman Reginald W Appleford, moving into an office at Chancery House, 440 Little Collins Street the following year (Logan 2012:179).
  • Chris A. Cowper, Murphy and Appleford produced many blocks of flats in the 1920s and were later known for their work on modern cinemas and hotels (Hermes no. 124662), in particular the
  • Regent Theatre, Ballarat (1927, VHR H2221)
  • and the Sun Theatre, Yarraville (1938, VHR H0679).
In the 1920s Cowper focussed on real estate and finance as a speculative builder and real estate developer, but also continued residential design, which Logan (2012:179) notes ‘exhibits great refinement in detail and composition. His highly individual handling of joints and bracket details is especially skilful, and adds not only visual interest to the houses, but also imparts a craft-like quality to his architecture’ (Logan 2012:179). The
partnership was dissolved in 1930 when Cowper retired from the practice, however, Murphy and Appleford were able to continue running the practice under the same name (Argus 3 Jun 1932:1). Works by the office include
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  • buildings at Emerald Country Club Estate (the Clubhouse
  • and a number of picturesque cottages, 1920s) (Hermes no. 30389),
  • the Spanish Mission Bryn Flats, Orrong Road, Toorak (Australian Home Beautiful 1 Oct 1927: 19),
  • Okataina Flats, 33 Chelsea Street, Brighton (c1932) (Hermes no. 124662),
  • Sun Theatre in Yarraville (late 1930s) (Hermes no. 28117),
  • the upgrade of the Regent Picture Theatre in Ballarat (1943)
  • and the Koroit Memorial Hall and cinema (1957) (Hermes nos. 112528; 127276).
They are also known to have designed houses within the current City of Boroondara, including in Canterbury and Kew in the 1920s and early 1930s (Argus 21 Mar 1925; 20 Mar 1926:2; 2 Apr 1930:3).
  1. ^ https://www.geni.com/people/Christopher-Cowper/6000000015698073164
  2. ^




    http://www.skhs.org.au/SKHSbuildings/15.htm