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 Journals

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

The journals are an ongoing story for you to read, presented below to download and enjoy.

 

Labassa: House of Dreams Book

Author and historian Vicki Shuttleworth, takes readers on a journey through Labassa’s many metamorphoses and a cavalcade of intriguing residents including millionaires, fraudsters, movie stars, refugees, artists and bohemians. The mansion’s eleventh-hour rescue by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) is also told for the first time.

This is the story of a remarkable survival. Labassa has endured nine owners, a conversion into flats, sixty years of sporadic maintenance and more than 700 residents. That it survives with most of its 1890 decoration intact is largely due to those for whom Labassa was their ‘house of dreams’.

Purchase the lavishly designed book includes a foreword by Barry Owen Jones AC, endnotes, index and over 100 photos, many specially commissioned for the book.

 

PURCHASE THE BOOK

 

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

Related content section

Labassa Lives

Volume 9, Issue 2

After leaving Labassa, John Laurie headed to England in pursuit of his dream of being a famous director. Read about more of the creative former residents of Labassa.

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Labassa Lives

Volume 9, Issue 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.

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Labassa Lives

Volume 8, Issue 3

In 1969, Labassa was a house of music makers. The music room and halls reverberated with violin and flute concertos, and the servant quarters were all blues and rock and roll.

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Labassa Lives

Volume 8, Issue 2

A story that feels quite pertinent to tell, Dr Ralph Parker McMeekin was one of Labassa Flats’ earliest residents and a Melbourne hero during the 1918-19 pandemic.

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Labassa Lives

Volume 8, Issue 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.

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Labassa Lives

Volume 7, Issue 3

Jane Clifton’s memoir, The Address Book, includes a fulsome chapter on her love affair with Labassa and its ‘motley’ collection of residents during the time she lived there.

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Labassa Lives

Volume 7, Issue 2

The infamous George Gray, resident of Labassa (1898-1901), lived a life of deception in the mining and racing industries in Western Australia and later Victoria.

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Labassa Lives

Volume 7, Issue 1

This volume explores Labassa's connections to the Young and Jackson Hotel in Melbourne, the iconic pub that sits on the corner of Flinders and Swanstons streets.

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Labassa Lives

Volume 6, Issue 3

Meet the Manton and Carrelje families and learn more about some of the children who grew up and called Labassa their home.

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Back Issues of Labassa Lives for download

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.