Painted decoration from Richmond Villa

Richmond Villa is an early Australian colonial house standing in Kent Street, Sydney.

Since 1978 it has been the head office of the Society of Australian Genealogists. The house was originally located at the back of Macquarie Street, facing the Domain near the NSW Parliament. It was built in 1849-1851, designed by Colonial Architect Mortimer Lewis (1796-1879) as a private residence for himself – but never occupied by Lewis who became insolvent in 1849.

From 1851 until 1893 the house was a family residence, first for resident owners and then under lease. In 1879 it was one of a number of privately-owned properties on the east side of Macquarie Street resumed under the Macquarie Street Land Resumption Act. The resumed land was intended for ‘the erection of Parliamentary buildings and other purposes’. From 1893 until 1975 the villa was used as an annex of Parliament House and known as Richmond House, initially providing accommodation for the Parliamentary Librarian and storage for part of the parliamentary library. It was later used to provide office and hostel accommodation for the Parliamentary Country Party. In 1975, when plans were developed for building additions to Parliament House, it was found impossible to retain Richmond Villa on its original site and a decision was made to relocate the building to a new site.

Richmond Villa was carefully recorded and every stone numbered prior to removal and work began on dismantling the building on 10 November 1975. This painted plaster panel was salvaged from the house during the process of dismantling, when it was exposed above a doorway in one of the principal rooms on the ground floor of the house.

 

About the Author

Head and shoulders photo of woman holding up card to face with conservator's white glove on hand.
Megan Martin
Head, Collections & Access
Megan is the head of Collections & Access at Sydney Living Museums. She has a particular interest in the working of the historical imagination, in teasing out the meanings of objects in museums collections and in crafting the stories that can be recovered/discovered through a close reading of those items of material culture.

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