From mansion to flats, Labassa has survived with its Victorian era decoration intact
We acknowledge the Bunurong people as the Traditional Owners of the land on which Labassa is located. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present, and recognise their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities.
Labassa is an outstanding Victorian-era mansion with opulent architectural features. Originally called ‘Sylliott Hill’, it was renamed ‘Ontario’ in the 1880s reflecting its new owner Alexander William Robertson’s Canadian heritage. He had the mansion redeveloped in the French Second Empire style by commissioning the German-born architect, John A. B. Koch, who remodelled the house into a thirty-five roomed mansion. The interior features gilt embossed wallpapers, ornate stained glass and a rare trompe l’oeil ceiling.
Renamed Labassa in 1904 it was home to Melbourne’s elite until 1920 when it was divided into flats. The residents included Hollywood’s first Australian silent film star and other colourful bohemians. Labassa is the most lavish of the few surviving nineteenth-century mansions and the magnificently restored interiors of the main rooms impress all its visitors.
Return to Labassa
A reunion of more than 135 former residents, owners and their descendants in 2013 led to an ongoing research project into Labassa’s remarkable lived history over 143 years.
From 1862-1920 Labassa was the residence of a succession of enterprising and prosperous families. Following those boom years it was divided into flats and became home to successive waves of residents of more modest means including socialites, world war heroes, Jewish refugees and bohemian artists.
Follow the different stories and course of the latest research through the Labassa Lives Journal written and compiled by historian Vicki Shuttleworth.
Sunday 16 January 2022
Labassa: Through the Eye of a Lens
10am – 4.30pm (last entry at 3.30pm)
Explore Labassa’s grand architecture and decorative features that have inspired generations of amateur and professional photographers
Labassa’s grand architecture and exquisite decorative features have drawn generations of amateur and professional photographers. See this extraordinary mansion through the eye of the lens with a presentation of works by some of Labassa’s most significant photographers. Bring your own camera and take a guided photographic tour to get that ‘wow’ shot. Join the hunt for Labassa’s quirky ‘critters’ and capture them on camera.
Conditions of Entry
The safety of our visitors and staff remains our top priority. We have put measures in place to protect the health and wellbeing of everybody and conditions of entry will apply to all visitors and staff. Please review our updated Conditions of Entry for more information.