Open House Melbourne 2017: Portable Iron Houses

Find out how you could order a cottage or even a church from a catalogue in the 19th century for it to arrive in a flat pack!

The National Trust has participated in Open House Melbourne (OHM) since opening the doors of Tasma Terrace in 2009.

OHM provides the community with a free opportunity to discover a hidden wealth of architecture, engineering marvels and historic buildings nestled around the CBD and Cities of Port Phillip and Stonnington.

Take this opportunity to experience one of the Trust’s hidden gems – the three Portable Iron Houses in South Melbourne.

In the nineteenth century portable iron buildings (including cottages, churches, theatres and shops) were bought from catalogues and arrived flat packed and ready to be assembled. The crates the buildings arrived in were then used to line the interior walls (you can see owner Robert Patterson’s initials and Melbourne destination numbers in Patterson House).

The three corrugated iron and wood houses – Patterson, Bellhouse and Abercrombie – are all the result of significant preservation campaigns. Patterson House is on its original site and was once one of a terrace of similar houses, while Bellhouse was saved from demolition in Fitzroy in 1971 and Abercrombie was rescued from North Melbourne in 1981.


Don’t forget to visit the Como House & Garden and Tasma Terrace, also participating in Open House Melbourne this weekend.

Open House Melbourne is a free event for all.

Portable Iron Houses - Planning your visit


399 Coventry Street
South Melbourne 3205 VIC

Bookings Office on 03 9656 9889 Mon-Fri

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