Mayfair … Hartford … Carlyle … Florence … Gaza … Morocco … Minnesota … Montana

An itinerary to distant and exotic places? No, Glebe house names!

Houses were often known by their names in the days before the numbering of houses became fully systematised early in the 20thC.

Apart from the obvious influences suggested above, many other preoccupations and aspirations are demonstrated in the way properties have been named by their builders, architects or owners.

In Glebe, for example, there are the ‘Rivers of Tasmania’ terraces (1903) in Glebe Point Road (corner Hereford Street) where Derwent, Tamar, Huon and Esk stand side by side. Further down Glebe Point Road at Nos. 433-445, there are terraces (1899-1900) named alphabetically – and with some brevity – Abna, Boro, Cama, Divo, Edna (not displayed), Freya and Gaza.

The Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Epsilon terraces (1892) in Wigram Road (Nos. 63-71) suggest an owner, architect or builder with a classical education or perhaps aspirations to one.

Was St Elmo (1895) named after the patron saint of ships? Many Australian houses were named after the ship which brought immigrants safely to these shores. Was St Helens (1902) a reference to the attractive legend that this saint, reputedly the mother of the Emperor Constantine, was an Englishwoman and daughter of Old King Cole?

Fashions in names

Gould* indicates that early and mid-Victorian house names displayed a sense of grandeur. For example, in Glebe we have Toxteth Park (1831) and Lyndhurst (c.1835).

In the late Victorian and Federation period (which was when much of the development occurred in Glebe), house names tended to become more personal and given names were often used. Some local examples are Edith Villas (1877), Alice Villas (1911), Florence Villa (1873-6), Beryl Lee (1910) and Louisa Terrace (1875).

Styles of presentation

House names might appear in gold leaf, frosted or stained glass fanlights (Keribree at 55 Hereford Street is an exquisite example) or in panels of timber, metal (brass, copper, gold leaf) or glass (often in combination) beside the front door or on the verandah beam above the front steps.

Researching your house name

If you are considering researching your property’s original name, you should first check the Certificate of Title for useful information (eg, date built) and then check the holdings of:

* The State Library (eg, Sands Directories, Post Office Directories, etc)
* The Society of Genealogists
* NSW Archives
* Glebe Library (local history section)

The Glebe Society also holds some limited information on this subject and we would be pleased to handle requests in writing.

The architecture of Glebe tells its own story; but house names augment this and add a poetic flourish to mere bricks and mortar.

“A house without a name is a house without soul”

*Gould, Graham, House names of Australia : The complete guide to naming your house,
Lyre Bird Publications, Moonee Ponds, 1994, p6