From mansion to apartments, Labassa has survived with its Victorian era decoration intact.
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, to remodel 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 again impress all its visitors.
Return to Labassa
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.
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.
Follow the different stories and course of the latest research through the Labassa Lives Journal written and compiled by historian Vicki Shuttleworth.
Sunday 18 July
Christmas in July Open Day
10am – 4.30pm (last entry at 3.30pm)
Experience the sights and sounds of a mid-winter Christmas at Labassa
We’ve decked the halls, decorated the tree and set the dining table with all the style of a sumptuous 1890 banquet.
Learn how to make your own Christmas decorations and vintage cards. Take a guided tour and hear how the mansion’s residents celebrated the festive season from the days of Marvellous Melbourne, through two World Wars and into the Swinging 60s.