The house at 59 (formerly 55) Kirby Street, Dundas, known as “Upjohn House”, is significant because it is one of the earliest houses built in the area and is a rare reminder of the residences of this period.[i]

The original 11 acres along Subiaco Creek was granted to James Warman on 7 July 1835.[ii] Warman was one of the first settlers in the district and possibly the organist at St Anne’s Church in neighbouring Ryde.[iii]

The 1880s saw the first encroachment of suburbia into this otherwise rural setting. “Upjohn House”, or as the house was originally called, “Netherlands” [iv] was constructed around 1885.[v] It was one of three villas built by a Mr. Brown which are all situated within view of each other. One is located at Marsden Road, Mobbs Hill, the second is used as a Cumberland Builders Bowling Club, in Dora Crescent, and the third is Upjohn House.[vi]

“Upjohn House” was reportedly built for a wealthy butcher who was attracted to the district for its rural atmosphere and its proximity to Parramatta.[vii] The original owner obviously took great pride in his home and developed the surrounding site with landscaped lawns and garden and a variety of outbuildings which included a coach house, gazebo and tennis court.[viii]

The grandeur of the house and the work carried out to develop its gardens was impressive for the time. The house was put up for auction in 1892 and was described in these terms;

Forty acres with a good residence occupying a beautiful situation. Land has frontage to Dundas Road and Water Street and there is ample water supply from creek. The house is a brick on stone, contains verandah and balcony, 6 rooms, bathroom, kitchen, 2 pantrys, weatherboard stabling, 3 stalls, coach house, U.G. tanks. The orchard is about 12 acres in extent planted with orange, mandarin, lemon and summer fruit trees in full bearing condition, growth from 5 to 6 years. An area of six acres is ready for planting; the balance well grassed land. Seeing the great improvements and expansion in the neighbourhood within the last two years, and the very fair access to and from the railway station, this property of 40 acres all told should commend itself to the notice of any gentleman seeking a suburban home, with a valuable return from high class orchard cultivation.[ix]

The house itself is a two storey Victorian brick and stucco residence with sash windows and is one of a number which follow the Dundas ridge towards Parramatta.[x] Its large size, garden villa setting and marvellous views towards river and beyond mark it as unusual in Rydalmere.[xi] The house sits on stone foundations, with iron roof, elaborate and Italianate lacework to second storey verandah. It also has some rare chimney features including rendered cornice decoration at the front and two painted brick chimneys at rear. The verandah has a bullnose corrugated iron roof and hip corners, a projecting gable on both floors, quarry tiles on ground floor and timber on first floor.[xii]

Upjohn House 1

‘Upjohn House’ and cottage, 1993, Parramatta Heritage Study: Inventory Photo No-335

In August 1895, ‘Netherlands’ was placed under mortgagee sale for £2500.[xiii] At about this period it was occupied by Miss Doyle, most probably the Head Mistress of Parramatta South Superior Primary School. Then in May 1900 Mr. Walter H. Gedge, from Marathon Station, Hobart River, New Zealand, took up residence at “Netherlands” the former abode of Miss Doyle.[xiv] In June 1902 Mr. Gedge purchased the villa residence for £1850 pounds.[xv]

In 1916, the property was purchased by Mr E. R. Eccles who opened a nursery on the property with his father in law, Captain Henry Strom. The nursery operated until 1936 when the Strom and Eccles family leased the property to S. F. Pegum who managed the property as a golf course between 1936 and 1956.[xvi] The residence was used as clubhouse for the golf course.[xvii] On 16 October 1956, it was purchased by Upjohn Pharmaceuticals from Strom and Eccles for £44,000. The total area purchased was 53.47 acres comprising of: lot 1: 36 acres; lot 2: 12.69 acres; lot 3: 1.2 acres; lot4: 3.53acres.[xviii]

On 17 October 1956, Lot 1 and Lot 4 were transferred to Parramatta City Council as Public Parks namely ‘Upjohn Park’ and ‘Eccles Park’. Lot 3 was sold to the Department of Main Roads as part of the extension of Silverwater Road. Lot 2 was developed by until the sale of the property to Upjohn Pharmaceuticals as an industrial site with offices and factory. The Company renovated Upjohn House to use as an office and moved in on 9 December 1957. By this time the majority of outbuildings had been demolished.[xix]

The construction of the main factory started at the same time and was completed in 1959. The building was opened on 19 February 1959 by Sir Eric Woodward, the Governor of NSW, before about 200 invited guests.[xx]

In their heritage building impact assessment Graham Brooks and Miriam Stacy described the building as follows;

The windows have rendered brick corniced sills with bracket decoration below and Victorian label mould arcs above. Exterior doors include French doors with segmented arch transom light above, and with round head glazed panels above timber bolection moulded panels to both floors. Main house door has a segmented arch in transom lights and sidelights flanking a four panelled door with upper panels glazed. The gazebo has a terracotta roof, elaborate scalloping to barge boards and timber fretwork screen.[xxi]

The house retains its garden around the house because the parcel of land was zoned Parks and recreation under County of Cumberland Planning Scheme.[xxii] Much of the former house grounds are now adjoining Upjohn Park which was a former golf course, later purchased by the Upjohn Pharmaceuticals company during construction of a ‘garden factory’.[xxiii] The Upjohn Pharmaceuticals manufacturing firm was founded in 1886 in the U.S.A. by Dr William E. Upjohn.[xxiv]

Over 1963 to 1964 a major extension was added to the factory and office building by the architect and builder Austin Anderson Pty Ltd.[xxv] Currently the Upjohn Pharmaceuticals site consists of one office, a factory, car park and electricity substation. ‘Upjohn House’ is on an isolated site to the north of main facilities.[xxvi]

 

References

[i] http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/repealed_reg/plep1996ac549/sch1.html
[ii] Upjohn House, Rydalmere: Upjohn Pty Ltd Assessment of Impact, Schwager Brooks and Partners, Architects and Heritage Consultants, 1993, p.6
[iii] Upjohn House, Rydalmere: Upjohn Pty Ltd Assessment of Impact, Schwager Brooks and Partners, Architects and Heritage Consultants, 1993, p.6
[iv] http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article86267536
[v] Upjohn House, Rydalmere: Upjohn Pty Ltd Assessment of Impact, Schwager Brooks and Partners, Architects and Heritage Consultants, 1993, p.9
[vi] Upjohn House, Rydalmere: Upjohn Pty Ltd Assessment of Impact, Schwager Brooks and Partners, Architects and Heritage Consultants, 1993, p.17
[vii] Unfortunately we could not locate any information about the name of this butcher.
[viii] Upjohn House, Rydalmere: Upjohn Pty Ltd Assessment of Impact, Schwager Brooks and Partners, Architects and Heritage Consultants, 1993, p.17
[ix] http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article86267536
[x] http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=2240335
[xi] http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=2240335
[xii] ibid
[xiii] http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article85646578
[xiv] http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article85820942
[xv] http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article85831131
[xvi] Upjohn House, Rydalmere: Upjohn Pty Ltd Assessment of Impact, Schwager Brooks and Partners, Architects and Heritage Consultants, 1993, p.9
[xvii] Upjohn House, Rydalmere: Upjohn Pty Ltd Assessment of Impact, Schwager Brooks and Partners, Architects and Heritage Consultants, 1993, p.9
[xviii] Upjohn Park, Rydalmere: A Brief History of Upjohn Pty Limited in Australia
[xix] Upjohn House, Rydalmere: Upjohn Pty Ltd Assessment of Impact, Schwager Brooks and Partners, Architects and Heritage Consultants, 1993, p.12
[xx] Upjohn Park, Rydalmere: A Brief History of Upjohn Pty Limited in Australia
[xxi] http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=2240335
[xxii] Upjohn House, Rydalmere: Upjohn Pty Ltd Assessment of Impact, Schwager Brooks and Partners, Architects and Heritage Consultants, 1993, p.10
[xxiii] http://www.parracity.nsw.gov.au/play/sports_and_recreation/parks_and_reserves2/upjohn_park
[xxiv] Upjohn, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upjohn
[xxv] Upjohn House, Rydalmere: Upjohn Pty Ltd Assessment of Impact, Schwager Brooks and Partners, Architects and Heritage Consultants, 1993, p.12
[xxvi] Upjohn House, Rydalmere: Upjohn Pty Ltd Assessment of Impact, Schwager Brooks and Partners, Architects and Heritage Consultants, 1993, p.14

 

by-sa
Neera Sahni, Research Services Leader and Peter Arfanis, Archivist, Parramatta Council, Heritage and Visitor Information Centre, 2013