The parcel of land where Portsea Terrace is built was one of several that were sold at auction on 3 December 1849. Notices in the newspaper described them as ‘valuable building sites’ that were ‘remarkably convenient for parties connected with the New Wharf, Ship Building Yards, Docks etc.
Thomas Fisher purchased the block on the north-east corner of the Montpelier Retreat / Hampden Road intersection for £152. There was strong demand for good quality accommodation in such close proximity to the harbour and Fisher built a terrace of four two-storey brick townhouses (on today’s Montpelier Retreat) which he rented out to various tenants. Each of the townhouses had 6 rooms and newspaper adverts described them as ‘well-finished’ and enjoying ‘a healthy and respectable situation’.
One of the tenants was Phineas Moss who had emigrated to Van Diemen’s Land from Portsea, Hampshire, England and that may be the origin of the property’s name. The townhouses were originally called Portsea Place but became known as Portsea Terrace in the 1890s.
The four townhouses were purchased for £1,550 by James Robertson in 1890 and he continued to rent them out to various tenants. Robertson built today’s 62 Montpelier Retreat in 1894, endeavouring to match its appearance with the adjoining four townhouses.
Portsea Terrace has survived in excellent condition and is an outstanding example of an elegant row of two-storey Georgian style townhouses.
Main Information Source – Australian Heritage Database