Tag Archives: Esmond Dorney

open house hobart: the finale

Sunday 10 November 2019

part 1: supreme court

part 2: construction house & jarvis house

part 3: town hall, carnegie building & henry jones

part 4: riverfront motel

part 5: penitentiary chapel

part 6: treasury

After our tour of the Treasury complex and a quick sugar hit, Lil Sis and I made the drive out to Sandy Bay to visit our second Dorney house of the weekend, the house at Fort Nelson.

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Esmond Dorney House, Fort Nelson

Perched on top of one of the fort’s old gun emplacements, this iconic 1978 house is a must-see on the Open House weekend. It’s about a 15-minute walk uphill, or you can wait for the shuttle bus, which is what we did.

I think I have this bit right. The first house that Esmond Dorney built on the site was in 1949, on the southern gun emplacement.

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The flat out the back

He built a second house in 1966 on the current site, which burnt down in a bushfire caused by a neighbour’s burn-off. He replaced that in 1978 with the current house, which survived another bushfire that burnt the 1949 building.

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Underneath the fort

The ABC recently featured the house in a tour with architect Leigh Woolley.

There are many cool things about this house. The view, obviously. (Not the wind.)

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How good is the view

This wall.

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So cool

The hidden bedrooms. And of course, the sunken lounge, the conversation pit.

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Conversation pit

It was a fabulous way to end the weekend, sitting in the conversation pit listening to Paddy Dorney speak about his father’s work.

A huge thank you to everyone involved in organising it and all the fabulous volunteers on the weekend. It was one of the highlights of the year for me.

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In and out

Open House Hobart 2019:

  • 11 buildings
  • 1 walking tour
  • 48,000 steps
  • 392 photos

PS: A couple of weeks after the weekend, I found out one of my photos of the Riverfront Motel had been chosen as a winner of the OHH Instagram competition, which was very exciting and entirely unexpected.

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Glorious colours from the Riverfront Motel

open house hobart day 1 part 2

Part 1: Supreme Court

After our tour of the Supreme Court, Lil Sis and I had some time in town before our next tour so we rushed through three buildings in quick succession. The crypt at St David’s Cathedral, which sounded a bit grim but turned out to be a couple of small underground storerooms. At least we know what’s down there now.

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St David’s Cathedral crypt

Next stop was City Hall in Macquarie Street, which is a very cool building dating back to 1915.

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City Hall, Macquarie Street

Last time I was there it was full of rallying unionists. Today, it was empty. We had access to the caretaker’s cottage and the roof so there were some good views across the city and some potentially interesting photo opportunities.

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City Hall, interior

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City Hall, rooftop

Construction House on Bathurst Street is an awesome example of mid-20th century modernist architecture, and that was where we headed next.

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Construction House

It was designed by the architects Bush Parkes Shugg and Moon and built in 1956. I recently learned it was originally their offices before the Department of Education moved in. It is known for the massive rubber plant that grows up the staircase and for the beautiful mosaic by Max Angus on the front. I also recently learned that the original building only had three levels, with the other two added later.

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Staircase + rubber plant

My dentist operates out of this building, after the building that previously housed his practice at 173 Macquarie Street (also, coincidentally, designed by Bush Parkes Shugg and Moon) was demolished to make way for the Ibis hotel. I’ve never been as good at remembering to go to the dentist as I am now. I have a theory, after seeing other dentist practices in beautiful modernist buildings, that dentists operate out of lovely buildings to encourage their clients to visit regularly.

Today, thankfully, was not a dentist visit and we had access to the staircase and the rooftop, which was great because of the views and the chance to see the rubber plant all the way up.

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Construction House staircase

We didn’t stay long because we had another tour booked in Bellerive and had to leave for that. This was the Jarvis House, which is one of the many sensational houses designed by Esmond Dorney. This one is from 1959.

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Esmond Dorney drawings for the Jarvis House

The owner of the house, Carol, was recently featured on an ABC radio segment about the house and as I was listening to it, I was wishing I could actually see what they were talking about. Today was that opportunity.

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Jarvis House

It’s a lovely house with great views (which would be much improved by removing the tree over the road . . . . ) but if you go over the road the outlook across the river to kunanyi is breathtaking.

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View from Bellerive across the river

It was worth the trip just for that and the house was a bonus! One interesting feature of the house is the way the ceiling actually slopes downwards towards the back of the house, which isn’t immediately obvious until someone points it out to you. (Look at the drawing!)

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How gorgeous are these curves!

It’s been (sympathetically) extended over the years and Carol has been very passionate about keeping it consistent with its original form. It really is remarkable and I am very grateful that Carol was so willing to share it with us.

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Jarvis House front deck

So that was our Open House morning, with much more to look forward to in the afternoon and the next day.