18-08-1951: Zeerust/Glenferrie Mansion, Malvern, Victoria.

‘Zeerust’ mansion had its origins as ‘Glenferrie’, originally a parcel of land purchased by solicitor, Peter Ferrie[1], circa 1841. In 1864-65 the property came into the hands of James Fergusson[2] M.L.A, a partner in the firms, Fergusson and Mitchell, stationers, and Ferguson & Moore. Fergusson built a two storey mansion on the site circa 1870’s and as part of the embellishments, he commissioned the Melbourne stained glass firm ‘Ferguson & Urie’ to create a magnificent stained glass stairwell window of about 3.5 x 2 meters wide. The window depicted scenes of Pastoral, Printing, Shipping, Mining, Agriculture, Commerce, Railways, and Farming. The Fergusson clan coat of arms was depicted below the central panel with the knight’s helmet, three Boars heads, and Buckle, and the Fergusson clan motto “Dulcius Ex Asperis” (Sweeter after difficulties).  At the apex of the window, flanked by a Kangaroo and an Emu, was the early Colonial Australian Coat of Arms with the text below “Advance Australia”.

Photos taken: 10th May 2011.

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On the 15 of April 1905, Estate agents W. L. Baillieu & Co auctioned the estate and subdivision allotments, and the mansion known as ‘Glenferrie House’ was purchased by George Stevenson (1831-1907)[3], a wealthy clothing manufacturer who held various trade positions including President of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce.

Stevenson re-named ‘Glenferrie’ to ‘Zeerust’ and he died two years later in 1907[4]. His wife Amy (1838-1911) [5] retained the property and further subdivision of the estate occurred for many year after[6]. When Amy died in 1911 the property passed to the children and in 1914 further subdivisions occurred as well as the attempted sale of the mansion[7]. The Stevenson’s three surviving daughters eventually retained the estate until 1951 and then sold the mansion and remaining property at auction and the mansion was demolished in 1954.

The Ferguson & Urie stained glass window survived, and was installed in a house in Kooyong in the 1970’s. Mr Richard Price donated the window to the Melbourne Museum in 2001 where it was meticulously restored by the Geoffrey Wallace studio and mounted in its own frame for display in the Australiana collection at the Museum.

The Argus, Melbourne, Saturday 18th August 1951, page 7.

“Wrecker’s pick hangs over this old home”.

“ZEERUST,” one of Melbourne’s oldest mansion homes, is to be auctioned-and probably demolished. Ninety years ago its main gates were show pieces so imposing that during the last war they were bought to front the Springvale Cemetery. The old place has given ground slowly-and literally. Once it stood in wide Kooyong acres, touching Toorak rd. to the south, Glenferrie rd. to the west, and Gardiner’s Creek to the north. But down the years its grounds have been subdivided for home sites. Now all that’s left probably will be parcelled out for flats. The first owner built big for a purpose-a kitchen fit for a country hotel and a dining room 84ft. by 24ft.-you could put a villa into it. He had hopes of entertaining the late Duke of Edinburgh, who visited Melbourne in 1865. But the Duke didn’t come to Zeerust.  The late Mr. George Stevenson, of L. Stevenson and Sons, Flinders lane, bought the mansion about 50 years ago. His daughters, Misses. Gertrude, MabeI, and Myra Stevenson, own it now. Yesterday they were busy sorting out furniture and decorations to take to a new and smaller house. It was a hard task. Miss Gertrude Stevenson showed an “Argus” photographer stained glass windows (below, right), a solid brass bedstead with brass canopy and laced tester (centre, below), and antiques in Victorian profusion (left, below). Light from the stained glass tinted family portraits. But the hardest thing of all for the Misses Stevenson to leave may be the sight of the Yarra Valley and Hawthorn, commanded by the top windows in the picture left”.

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Tuesday 12th October 1937, page 10.

“Stonnington.

“Sir, – I was greatly interested in your article published last Wednesday dealing with Stonnington and the neighbourhood and Mr. J. B. McLeans’s reminiscences, but would like to point out that the James Ferguson mentioned was James Fergusson (note the double “s” in the spelling), who was the senior partner in the firms of Fergusson and Mitchell and Fergusson and Moore (not Muries). Fergusson and Mitchell had a stationer’s shop in Collins street, near Drummond’s, the jeweller’s, not Elizabeth street. James Fergusson was for some years a member of the Legislative Assembly, representing South Bourke, which included Malvern. His house in Glenferrie road, now occupied by the Misses Stevenson, was named Glenferrie, and, I understand, is of German renaissance style of architecture. – Yours, &c. HERBERT KONG-MENG, Longwood.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Thursday 14th October 1937, page 10.

“Stonnington

“Sir, – I was very interested in your article on the homes in Glenferrie road. My uncle, James Fergusson, purchased the property at the corner of Glenferrie and Toorak roads extending to Gardiner’s Creek in each road, containing 60 acres, in 1865 for £4,500. The dwelling, which was built in the ‘70’s, was called “Glenferrie,” and faces north-east; it is now called “Zeerust,” with entrance from Monaro road. In 1881 my uncle was offered £30,000 for the property, and in 1888 refused £100,000 for it. This was after the Glen Iris railway had passed through the estate, and Kooyong station was built on the property. After the land boom had burst the property was offered for £15,000, without finding a purchaser. – Yours, &c., A. M. FERGUSSON. East Hawthorn.”

Related posts: Dr Richard Gillespie talks about the ‘Glenferrie’ window at the Melbourne Museum.

Footnotes:

[1] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Monday 4th January 1869, page 4.
“FERRIE.- On the 5th November, at 64 Harley street, Cavendish-square, London, Peter Ferrie, Esq., of Blairtumach, Glasgow, and late of Glen Ferrie, Toorak”.

[2] The Argus, Melbourne, VIC, Wednesday 4th April 1888, page 1.
“FERGUSSON.-On the 3rd inst., at Glenferrie, Malvern, James Fergusson, aged 59 years, of the firm Fergusson and Mitchell”. Buried at Boroondarra Cemetery, Kew, 5th April 1888.

[3] Stevenson also built the mansion ‘Trawalla’ in Toorak which also still has a magnificent stained glass window in the stairwell by Ferguson & Urie.

[4] The Argus, Melbourne, VIC, Monday 14th October 1907, page 1.
“STEVENSON.- On the 13th October, at Melbourne, George Stevenson, of “Zeerust,” Malvern, the dearly beloved husband of Amy Stevenson, in his 76th year.”

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