From mansion to flats, 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, 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.

Read the Labassa Lives Journal

Labassa Open Day

Sunday 17 March 2024

Experience the complex richness of Labassa’s architectural and human history. Although more than 700 people have lived at Labassa, it has miraculously survived with most of its opulent Victorian era decoration intact.

Labassa is open 10:30am to 4pm with last entry at 3:30pm. Pre-purchasing your ticket online is highly recommended.

Guided house tours on the hour from 11am to 3pm and tearoom available. The tower will be open with a limit of 12 people per tour group. Due to the tower’s narrow, steep steps visitors are advised to wear sensible shoes.

Join us for a guided tour or opt for a self-guided tour.

Guided Tour Times:

  • 11am: Interior House Tour
  • 12pm: ‘Who’s been living in this house?’ Tour (Note: this tour goes upstairs)
  • 1pm: Exterior tour
  • 2pm: Interior House Tour
  • 3pm: Interior House Tour

Tower tours: 10:45am, 11.45am, 12.45pm, 1.45pm, 2.45pm, 3.45pm (Limit of 12 people per tour).

Tea room available: 10.30am – 3.30pm.

Please arrive at least 15 minutes before your intended guided tour time. Capacity will be monitored on the day.

Pre-bookings are highly recommended to avoid disappointment. Walk up availability is subject to the numbers already in the house.



Important Information

Information brochure available for self-guided tours.

Only bottled water may be consumed in the house.

Stilettos are not permitted to be worn inside of Labassa mansion.

Visitors are not permitted to park in Manor Grove.

Place Details

Third Sunday of the month.
10:30am - 4:00pm

NT members: FREE
Adults: $15
Concession: $12
Children: $9
Family (2A + 2C): $35

2 Manor Grove
Caulfield North 3161 VIC

Bunurong Country

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Victoria and recognise their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present.

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Plan your visit



2 Manor Grove
Caulfield North 3161 VIC


Third Sunday of the month.
10:30am - 4:00pm

What we offer:

Please note: Parking is not permitted on Manor Grove.

‘If the Royal Exhibition Building was Melbourne’s public expression of confidence…then Ontario, now known as Labassa, was a private one.’

The Story of Labassa, Hammond, 2004

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