These were the original names of the two Victorian mansions still standing on Mary St. Glenlea now number 4 is being restored as a family home; number 6 has been converted into flats.  When built in 1884 each of the twin buildings had back and front balconies; a laundry, pantry, breakfast room and kitchen at basement level; entrance hall, master bedroom, drawing and dining rooms with folding doors on the ground floor; and three bedrooms, dressing room and water closet on the first floor. As was usual, they were known by their names years before they were given numbers.

Mary St commemorates Mary Chisholm who owned large portions of Alexander Brodie Spark’s original Glebe Point grant. The area was in the 1870s described as rich in Italian scenery, with bathing in summer, delightful society, good water and within easy reach of the city by foot or omnibus. From 1882 the tram terminus was a few minutes’ walk away. Mary St’s houses were erected by Alfred Charles Petterson, a speculator builder from Sweden who had ca 1878 built the two-storey sandstone The Anchorage on the Mary St/Glebe Point Rd boundary. Alfred and his wife Olivia Cecilia moved into Edsburg (perhaps named for Edsberg, a Swedish town) when it was completed and their daughter Beatrice Cecilia was born there in January 1885, but the Pettersons did not enjoy their new home for long. In March 1885 their effects – including a French piano, Brussels carpets, a cow, buggy and sailing boat – were sold. Sued by plumbers, brick suppliers and other creditors, Petterson was declared bankrupt and the family took up farming at Cecil North Richmond where Alfred died on 29 July 1923 and his widow on 3 January 1935.

Following the Pettersons’ departure Edsburg was occupied by various tenants: the Count de Louvires; Parisian milliner Madame Eugenie Boivin who taught French at Wellesley College Newtown and privately at home; Rudolph Hamburger and watch importer Bela Singer, both in trouble with the law over trade mark and customs duty infringements. (Hamburger in 1891 married Lydia, the daughter of Richard Meares, a neighbour who lived at Cliff Lodge.)

In February 1895 both houses were put up for mortgagee auction sale. Edsburg was then occupied until 1903 by widow Agnes Heaphy née Garrett who moved there from Rossmoyne Strathfield with her young son George Arthur Livingstone Heaphy born 10 August 1889. Her husband, a dentist who died aged 39, had on one occasion been burgled of £30 worth of artificial teeth stolen from his city showcase. Agnes died at the age of 93 at Balgowlah in 1948. George, a dentist who served as a staff sergeant in the First World War and a major in the Second, died in 1988 the day before his 99th birthday.

After the death in 1905 of her husband William, a London-born tobacconist and Mason, at Ellerslie 230 Glebe Point Rd, Catherine Maria Higstrim moved with her daughter Mary Ellen (born 1870) into Edsburg now renamed Chelsea. Catherine died in 1907 and Mary Ellen stayed on in the house until 1911 when she married engineer Charles John Hill. The couple took the surname ‘Higstrim-Hill’ and moved to The Anchorage (it underwent several name changes – Ellangowan, Holyrood, Glendora – before reverting to its original name in the 1920s). A collector of oil paintings and watercolours, Mary Ellen died in 1915 at Ellerslie, predeceased by her brothers William George Thomas (1864-1911) and Frederick Charles (1873-1913).

Charles Badham was at Chelsea for a couple of years before 1913 when Ruth Matilda McEwen née Woods took over its running as a boarding house. After her marriage at Gulgong in 1900 to carrier James Joseph McEwen the couple lived in Wellington where daughters Bertha V M and Margaret (nicknamed ‘Midge’ and ‘Tup’) were born in 1901 and 1903, and Mudgee where Mervyn E J was born in 1905. At Glebe, Ruth’s husband started drinking heavily and staying out at night and in 1921 she divorced him on grounds of desertion and married accountant Arthur Le Sueur. The Le Sueurs were still at number 2 Mary St in 1933. Mervyn married Stella Myrtle Phillips of Lithgow at St John’s Glebe in 1927 and they had a son Kevin John before Stella’s death in 1930. Mervyn died at Caringbah in 1942 and his stepfather at Sutherland in 1963.

Edsburg 6 Mary St (image: V Simpson-Young)
Edsburg 6 Mary St (image: V Simpson-Young)

Glenlea appears to have been multi-occupancy from the time it was built, being home to a number of single men, widows, insolvents and people of German background. A daughter was born there in September 1884 to Alexander Maclean, and some months later glazier Henry Readford’s wife was offering ‘every home comfort’ in ‘superior apartments for gentlemen’. Bank of NSW inspector Henry B Stiles was there 1887-8. By 1891 Mrs A Morris was running the building as a boarding house. Mrs Bonarius (she had German family connections in East Maitland) was there in 1891. In 1891 there was a sale of furniture at Glenlea. Following the death of her architect husband Albert Francis, Annie Harriett Myers was there for a year or so before auctioning her piano and other effects in July 1893. Benjamin Nelson from Orange died aged 80 at Glenlea in December 1894. Warehouseman Adolph Maerker, his wife Amanda and daughter Henrietta Frances moved in from around the corner in Leichhardt St before shifting around the next corner to The Anchorage. Civil servant David Byrne aged 53 died in the house in 1899.

While at Glenlea 1899-1900 Evelyn Isabel May Jillett divorced grazier Henrie Thomas on grounds of desertion and adultery. After marrying in Hobart in 1889 the couple had lived on the Jillett brothers Q station, then rented in Sydney before Henrie returned north in 1893. To supplement the money he sent, Evelyn opened a city tearoom and ran a Stanmore boarding house, but was declared bankrupt in 1896. Baird family accountants Robert and John McVey plus women’s clothing manufacturer Harold Robert were at Glenlea 1901-3 before moving to Eglinton Glebe Point Rd where Robert died in 1918 and Edinburgh-born John McVey Baird (his business failures as a printer and publisher and accountant in Australia and NZ spanned the years 1869-1919) died in 1921. Harold Robert and May Glanville née Goodall who married at St Barnabas in 1908 died in 1913 and 1918. The family cemetery was Waverley.

Captain George Walker, a Catholic master mariner and a Mason, had moved by 1903 from the South Coast to Glenlea where he lived with his wife Ellen, daughters Emma and Sarah and son Francis John, an engineer, until his death in 1912 after which the family’s effects were auctioned and Eileen Mary Leonard moved in. During the 1920s the house was occupied by Rosina and Joseph Swanson Doughty, a traveller; Mildred Florence Keys; Mrs E Graundevell; Daisy and Robert Yates, a barman; Mrs M Jenkins, a nurse; and Ellen Gertrude Gollan and Jane Binnie who trained together as obstetric nurses.

Number 4’s most recent use was as a boarding house.