The main building is a modest brick farmhouse, kept as intact and as consistent as possible. However, its internal layout was unsuitable for larger gatherings, and the change from residential to public use brought requirements such as the need for disability access, emergency egress, fire safety measures and structural regulations compliance. General upgrade and conservation works, and a site-wide infrastructure upgrade, have also been carried out. Works were completed in 2021.
Adaptation of the house included the removal of a timber extension and the addition of a new bay window, which increases the internal space and helps address the garden more. The rear garden is part of the architectural solution for providing public-use activity areas, with a formal lawn helping the transition from interior to exterior.
Strathdon House was surrounded by a formal cultivated landscape. Our landscape specialist Michael Cook started by identifying the historic ‘bones’ of the place. He says, “There are layers that reveal occupation and the logic over time: alternative crops, alternative energy use. So this is an opportunity to reinforce these and use them to bring the landscape together.” Investigations were greatly helped by the historic photographs held in the Stathdon House Collection, which depict the garden at various times before World War II. In 2020, Lovell Chen completed an assessment of significance for the collection.
The commercial orchard (and farm) was established in the 1890s by William John Fankhauser, and the house dates from 1893. Both were purchased by the Matheson family in 1914, who extended the house in 1918. The orchard operated until WWII, when labour shortages made it unviable and the land was subdivided.
Strathdon House and Orchard is owned by the City of Whitehorse, following its acquisition by federal grant in 1988 as part of Australia’s Bicenteniary celebrations.
Share this page