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North Park Mansion

                          Park Mansion

The building that was known as the North Park Mansion is located at 69 Woodland Street (opposite the St Vincent's Catholic Church) and is presently the Australian Headquarters of the St. Columban Mission and is now known as St. Columban's.

Prior to the construction of the present mansion, the block of land known as North Park had a number owners including John Thomas Smith and William Kissock (who bred diary cattle there in the 1860's). The land was purchased by Alexander Mc Cracken in 1887 for the sum of 5000 pounds. The land was said to be the highest point of Essendon. Oakden, Addison and Kemp were commissioned to design the 42 room North Park Mansion in 1888. A tender of 10,700 pounds was accepted from D. Sinclair for the construction of the house. The construction used Red Northcote bricks, sandstone from Waurn Ponds, basalt from Malmsbury and roofing tiles from Marseilles, France.

Alexander McCracken died in 1915 and in 1920 his widow sold all of the remaining North Park Estate land other than the Mansion and six acres. The Mansion was then sold to Harvey Paterson, an executive of B.H.P. In 1923 the house and land was sold to the Columban Order.

The architectural style of the house seems to a matter of some debate being variously described as "anticipating the popular Queen Anne Revival style in the use of red brick for the walls half timbering with rough cast in the gables, orange terracotta tiles, ornamental barge boards, decorative chimneys and ornate glazing." (MVG -3/2/97) or "a not altogether harmonious blend of architectural styles - a combination of Scottish Baronial, French, Victorian and Tudor" (Houses in Essendon Broadmeadows and Bulla) or " Tudor with minor modifications ......which would not have been out of place as a manor house in the English countryside in the reign of Elizabeth I" (Welcome to North Park Mansion the Australian Home of the Columban Fathers). As I have no architectural knowledge I cannot comment other than to say that the house is a very impressive and important building for the area (and indeed the greater Melbourne area).

The Mansion has been protected by being added to the Victorian Heritage Register in 1997. Heritage Victoria also believe that the grounds are  of aesthetic importance as an example of the"gardenesque style". (MVG 3/2/97).

Further details here.