Sunday, 1 September 2013

Albert Park House

A two storey Georgian stone house with an Edwardian timber verandah. The house is complemented by an old garden and is very much in its original condition.
Charles Abbott purchased 15 acres of land, including the site where Albert Park House now stands, in July 1833 and the building dates from this period.  William Young, a ship owner, purchased the 'capital dwelling house' in January 1838 and lived there until he sold it to John Mezger in January 1852.

Mezger was a successful wine and spirit merchant who had operated the Bird-in-Hand Hotel in Argyle Street, Hobart for many years.  By the 1850s Mezger also owned Lauderdale on Risdon Road, Cliefden on New Town Road, the Dusty Miller Inn in Glenorchy, Gatehouse's mill and brewery on the New Town Rivulet, and 129 acres of land surrounding Albert Park House.

In February 1852, Mezger advertised the lease of Albert Park.  The notice in The Courier newspaper contained the following description – 'The Establishment comprises nine commodious dining, drawing, bedrooms, large kitchen, butler's pantry, scullery, laundry, &c, with cellars under; coach-house, stables, dairy, poultry-yard, drying-ground, piggeries, &c, &c.  The whole is arranged with a view to protection and convenience, on a scale suitable for the accommodation of a family of the highest respectability.'

Although Mezger died in February 1854, the trustees of his estate continued to lease out the property.  In July 1882, Dr Harry Benjafield purchased Albert Park House and 144 acres of the surrounding land.  Benjafield established extensive orchards in the area and went on to become a major figure in the development of Tasmania's fruit industry - introducing many varieties of pear and pioneering cold storage and export of fruit to Britain. The introduction of a regular tram service along Main Road between the centre of Hobart and Moonah in 1893 made it possible for people to live in Moonah and commute to work in Hobart.
The following decades saw the area's orchards gradually replaced with houses.  Benjafield sold off most of his land for residential subdivision in the early 1900s but still lived at Albert Park House on about 17 acres.  Benjafield died in June 1917 but his widow continued to reside on the property.
In the late 1930s the land immediately surrounding Albert Park House was subdivided, including the creation of Dorset Street and a large area of public open space named Benjafield Park.  James and Claudia Short purchased Albert Park House in November 1940 and lived there until the early 1980s. The property is still a private residence.

Information Source: Australian Heritage Database