A reunion of more than 135 former residents, owners and their descendants in 2013 has led to an ongoing research project into Labassa’s remarkable social history during the mid 20th Century.

Labassa’s illustrious social history is familiar to many. From 1862-1920 it was the residence of a succession of enterprising and prosperous families. Following those boom years it was divided into apartments and became home to successive waves of residents of more modest means but not necessarily modest ambitions.

Among Labassa’s new wave of aspirants was Louise Lovely – Australia’s first silent film actress to find acclaim in Hollywood. In the 1930s and 1940s the mansion was the setting for innumerable extravagant parties and more demure meetings such as the Emilie Robins Auxiliary for the Queen Victoria Hospital. During the Second World War Labassa hosted fundraisers in aid of the Red Cross Comfort Fund. With the post-war immigration boom, Labassa became a significant residence for some of the European families who were displaced from their homelands.

Labassa Lives Journal – the ongoing story for you to read

Follow the different stories and course of latest research through the Labassa Lives journals written and compiled by historian Vicki Shuttleworth.

These are presented below for download.

Contact us with your story

Do you have a special connection to Labassa or stories about its social history?

Please email Vicki Shuttleworth on vickijshuttleworth@yahoo.com.au

Latest editions of the Labassa Lives Journal

Labassa Lives Vol 6 No 3.

Children who grew up at Labassa remember their childhood including the Manton family who moved in just after World War 2. Another instalment from the diaries of Javent Biarujia's diaries capture his residence during the 1980s after the Trust took over Labassa. And there is a profile of socialite Eva Robertson during the 19th C.


Labassa Lives Vol 6 No 2.

Learn about the remarkable story of Alan Cooper, racing car driver, international playboy and spendthrift who was the son of Labassa's gardener. Alex Buchanan and Lydia Buchan lived at Labassa before Alex began his parliamentary career as a sitting member. There's also another instalment from Javant Biarujia’s diaries


Labassa Lives Vol 6 No 1.

Read an extract of the diary of playwright Javant Biarujia. Various identities who stayed at Labassa including Dora and Gwen Miller and Detective Percy Lambell.


Labassa Lives Volume 5, Issue 3 December 2017

This issue includes details of the Willas flats, Herr Hansen's 1890s murals and the legacy of the Robertson wills. Architect K Murray Forster was well known in Victoria and many of his buildings survive. Early reports on the property dated the flats to the 1920s. They were actually built in 1936.


Labassa was a magnet for young art students and creative life-style people.
We could romanticise our existence, living in such a beautiful historic and spacious mansion. I always thought it a great privilege to have lived there.

Derek Hambly, Artist and Resident in the late 60s.

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