Style: Federation Queen Anne style
Elaine, Berith Park, Fernhill Estate: saving Australian mansions
BEN WILMOT The Australian12:00AM May 6, 2017
Berith Park, a master-built heritage home designed by Francis Ernest Stowe, is considered an architectural masterpiece, with grand interior living spaces flowing into manicured gardens.
The prized estate, sold through Ray White agents Elliott Placks and David Walker, needs little work.
“Every owner has treated it with such respect and I hope to do the same,” Gunalingam says of the Wahroonga home, which sports a pool, tennis court and golf driving range.
The exact sales result is shrouded in mystery, leaving it to speculation as to whether it topped the upper north shore’s record house price of $11.5 million set in 2010.
Berith Park is one of the area’s prized estates, with an impressive line-up of previous owners dating back to its Federation origins when it was built by architect Francis Ernest Stowe.The grounds at Berith Park, in Wahroonga, include a pool, a tennis court and a golf driving range.
Former Coca-Cola Amatil managing director Warwick White and his wife Karen listed the property in Octoberfollowing their move to Ireland and White’s appointment heading up the international beverage giant Keurig Green Mountain.
Ray White agents Elliott Placks and David Walker were gagged by confidentiality orders from revealing the result, but confirmed it sold to a local family.
The 7583-square-metre property last traded in 2002 for $5.59 million when sold by CH Warman Group executive chairman Vivian King.
Berith Park resets Sydney’s north shore trophy market
But not impossible. Up the home’s main marble stairway and inside a mosaic-tiled foyer is a breath-taking central living space that acts as an impressive centrepiece to this exquisite home.
Unlike your usual late Victorian heritage home, Berith Park wears its history with lots of sunlight and a functional family floorplan.
It was designed by architect Francis Ernest Stowe from 1897 to 1909 for Queensland merchant Alfred Smith, and in 1911 purchased by prominent businessman Sir Arthur Rickard and his wife Nellie, who added the tennis court, a ballroom, ornamental lake and cricket oval.
Here is why:
Spread over one level and set in the centre of a large parcel of land the central, light-filled living hall is the only living space that doesn’t overlook the surrounding landscaped garden through its myriad windows and verandahs.
Off the entry is a more intimate lounge room, dubbed the “Lady Mayoress” room in the 1930s, in honour of Eleanor Ida Crick, wife of then owner and Sydney Lord Mayor Stanley Crick, who was managing director of the Hoyts Theatre cinema chain.
Alderman Crick, the Lord Mayor of Sydney was a founder of Fox Studios.
Berith Park was used extensively as a location in a number of films.
A book-lined study sits behind it, and shares the same garden outlook and verandah access as the adjoining formal dining room.
The open-plan kitchen and family room at the rear was renovated about seven years ago and now features a vast marble-topped island benchtop at the centre, and the fireplace alcove now has an original Aga stove.
Behind it is a powder room and an extensive utility space with a separate entry and impressive family-sized laundry.
The second bedroom, sharing verandah access with the parents’ retreat, acts as an informal living room, there is a study with original curved feature wall and the sixth bedroom is a loft.
A breezeway at the rear leads to the separate guest quarters built in the 1950s by the Catholic Church as a dining room for the Dominican sisters when it was used as a convent.
In keeping with the home’s contemporary use, however, the separate quarters are now a billiard room and a gym downstairs, with a self-contained two-bedroom apartment above it.
The swimming pool looks new but dates back to before 1918, making it one of the oldest domestic pools in Sydney, and the championship-sized tennis court has synthetic grass and a half practice wall.
Despite the estate being subdivided and sold off for housing in 1937 and 1960, losing the lake in the process, the established trees and landscaping have created a beautifully private garden that retains hidden treasures, such as a golf driving range.
The owner has taken care to preserve what was already a beautifully designed and historic Australian family home, restoring the high, detailed ceilings, original wall mouldings, plaster details and installing underfloor heating after that first, unforgettable winter in residence.
The result is not only a property that celebrates its almost 120-year history, but is far and away the jewel of the upper north shore’s trophy home offerings.
Sale listing: 19 Billyard Avenue, Wahroonga, NSW 2076
All accessed 30 Dec 2017