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 9 No 1.

At Labassa, there's always something new to discover; always someone with a unique story to tell. Become acquainted with Louise Lovely, star of the silver screen, and more.


Labassa Lives Vol 8 No 3.

In 1969, Labassa was a household of music makers. The music room and hallways reverberated with violin and flute concertos. Meanwhile, outback in the servants’ quarters it was all blues and rock and roll.


Labassa Lives Vol 8 No 2.

Dr Ralph Parker McMeekin, one of Labassa Flats’ earliest residents and a Melbourne hero during the 1918-19 pandemic.


Labassa Lives Vol 8 No 1.

The Newton family. Almost everything we know about William (Bill) Newton has come to us in the form of a story about his heroism during the Second World War.


Labassa Lives Vol 7 No 3.

Jane Clifton’s memoir, The Address Book, includes a fulsome chapter on her love affair with Labassa and its ‘motley’ collection of residents.1 In an eventful twoyear residency, some Labassa tales did not make the final edit. Among these was the involvement of Tribe, an avant-garde performance troupe that performed at La Mama, the Pram Factory and in the streets from around 1969 to 1972.


Labassa Lives Vol 7 No. 2

The infamous George Gray, resident of Labassa (1898-1901), lived a life of deception in the mining and horse racing industries in Western Australia and later Victoria. This edition also explores the world of servants who worked for Labassa's households and the children who grew up in Labassa's communal groups in the seventies.


Labassa Lives Vol 7 No 1.

This volume explores Labassa's connections to the Young and Jackson Hotel in Melbourne, Norman Aitken who worked in the gardens, solicitor David Herald and a tribute to Neil Robertson great grandson of Alexander Robertson.


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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