‘Kurrowah’, a Henry Budden-designed home at 74 Alexandra Street in Hunters HIll came on the market yesterday for the first time in 30 years with a $4.5m ask. At first, it seems like an intimidating price for a home that lacks water frontage and only can stake claim to obstructed water views. The interiors are nothing to write home about (save for an original and unique barrel vault ceiling in the dining room) and the pictures are entirely unimpressive. Weirdly, listing agent Matthew Ward of Ward Partners fails to mention the most important trait this home carries: Henry Budden. Budden was a prolific architect of public and institutional buildings in early-20th Century Sydney yet only designed a small smattering of residences, making Kurrowah all the more unique. The architect began his practice around the turn of the century and designed the featured home in 1903 (not 1901, as is indicated on the listing). At that time, his asymmetric plan was straight up revolutionary. According to the 1982 Hunters Hill Trust Journal (don’t ask us how we found this):
“About 1903 Budden designed Kurrowah, the residence of Stephen H. Weedon, 74 Alexarrdra Street. Here his enthusiasm for asymmetry is pronounced, in the broken roof lines and multitude of angles; this is connected with his imaginative use of site. The house was reported and illustrated in the journal of the New South Wales lnstitute of Architects “Mr. Weedon’s house shows clever treqtment of a rather difficult problem in plonning, the building being so orranged that the best rooms command the best views” (Art and Architecture, 2 , 192-94). Today we can see Budden’s radical style if we compare Kurrowah with the Victorian houses opposite, 55 and 57 Alexandra Street, which seem quite conservative by comparison.”
Budden situated the home to capture northern light and impressive harbour views, views now obstructed by mature trees and recent development. The style of the home merges Craftsman (a style not then commonplace anywhere outside Southern California) and Queen Anne influences and shuns many iconic Federation-style features (ie. red brick exterior, tile roofing) then popular. Budden’s best known designs are likely his Art Deco stylings of the David Jones building in the CBD (1927) and Railway House on York St (1936) also in the CBD.
If the home does achieve its $4.5m ask, it will be in good company on Alexandra Street. #68 sold for $4.2m in 2008; #84, $4.5m in Sep 2011; #82, $5.09m in May 2005; and #79, $6.5m in Oct 2003. And none of those are waterfront.
David Jones building, 1927 (above); Railway House, 1936 (below)
Click below for more images of Kurrowah and listing information.