Treasures from Leuralla
Located in Leura in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, with a spectacular view of the Jamison Valley, this heritage listed home is now a private museum showcasing a beautiful Mountains garden, an outdoor model railway and an Art Deco house filled with a wide range of 20th century toys.
There is always a story behind a toy...
Elizabeth Evatt, 2015
The original home, built in 1903 for independent businessman and big-game fishermen EP ‘Harry’ Andreas, was sadly lost to bushfire in 1909. The current grand Art Deco house was completed in 1912. Featuring original fixtures, fittings and finishes, it is now home to a Toy and Railway Museum owned and operated by Andreas’ grandson, Clive Evatt Jnr and his wife Elizabeth.
In the 1980s, following numerous requests, Elizabeth and Clive began to prepare to open this grand property to the public. Over many years the house had fallen quiet and the gardens overgrown. With much hard work the twelve acre grounds were restored to their former glory, and original exotic European and American trees such as Sequoia, Maple, Copper Beech and Chestnut trees - planted before the first house was built - survived to create a picturesque backdrop to the large range of flowering shrubs and plants. The grounds also feature an outdoor display of model trains and original ephemera from NSW railways such as signage, benches and station contents, which were being removed and disposed of in the 1980s. A passion of the Evatts, these items were salvaged and are now shared with their visitors.
The nucleus of the toy collection at Leuralla comes from those toys played with by the children and grandchildren of Andreas, some made by his skilled hand. Other toys were brought by Herbert Vere ‘Doc’ Evatt, brother-in-law to Andreas’ daughter Marjorie. Doc was a prominent barrister, author, politician, and diplomat. He was also the youngest High Court Judge in Australia and was a collector of significant artworks of his time - he was particularly passionate about Matisse. His role as a diplomat allowed him to travel widely, and he often returned with the latest and best quality toys for his nieces and nephew.
When considering opening the house to the public in the 1980s, toys were also emerging as the latest collectible craze and were seen more and more in prestigious auction rooms around the world. Clive and Elizabeth Evatt began to fill the house with exquisite examples of twentieth century toys from Germany, England, America and Italy.
I see myself as a custodian of the house, collection and gardens. We aim to collect the finest examples of the best toys from the early twentieth century… many of these toys are replicas of the real thing and are incredible pieces of artwork – they represent society in miniature.
Elizabeth Evatt, 2015