Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Mimosa

This mansion certainly is one of majestic proportions. It certainly is one of the most beautiful colonial mansions in Hobart. The house is nestled at the foot of Mt Wellington, located in the suburb of North Hobart. It was originally constructed in 1879 by Dr Harry Benjafield. He was a doctor by profession, pioneered homeopathy in Tasmania, became a specialist in the cultivation of pears, tried unsuccessfully to run a dairy, imported Welsh miners to mine coal at Mt Stuart and in 1884, founded the Hobart Baptist Church in the dining room of his mansion with his wife and 17 others.

Harry Benjafield came up the hard way by working his way through Edinburgh University after a meagre education in Wiltshire where he was born in 1845. He migrated to Tasmania on the steamship, Somerset, in 1873 and he became the first homeopathic physician in Hobart Town. 6 years later, he constructed his mansion in North Hobart. It is now known by the name, Mimosa, but it didn't start life with this name.

Dr Benjafield originally called his handsome and substantial family residence, "The Willows" and it initially stood on nearly 2 hectares of land. It is built of sandstone quarried in the suburbs of Hobart and roofed with imported slate. Examples of fine craftsmanship from the period are in abundance throughout the building and modernization that have taken place over the following years have treated these examples with respect.

Once inside the front door with its red, green and blue leadlight windows on either side, you enter into a broad hall with a staircase five metres away which takes up the left hand half of the halls width. Spanning both this and the rest of the hall is an arch of finely polished wood. In its middle and set into the worrdwork is a large bronze plate with beautifully wrought initials "FB" set into a laurel wreath. This was a little bit of self immortalisation by the mansion's second owner, Frank Bond. Bond was the one who game the property it's present name.

Some of the many charming features are also still in place in the house, including the numerous fireplaces, which reveal very different designs, but in showing the best of Victorian craftsmanship in black or carved white marble. The ceilings are very high and the rooms all have a real generosity of space, both upstairs and down. There are plenty of nice wide bay windows throughout the house.

Outside, there is no sign of the original steel picket fence and ornate entry gates through which Dr Benjafield would drive his light, four wheeled buggy drawn by two fast horses as he sped off to visit someone in need.
Benjafield sold "The Willows" to Bond in 1905 and moved to his Albert Park property in Moonah. There were several changes in ownership for the renamed Mimosa in subsequent years. During the thirties, the house was used as a guest house.

The property was acquired by the Tasmanian Government in 1942 to house the Public Trustees Office and Supreme Court registry. It served this purpose until 1990 when the property was once again sold. It became corporate office space until August 2014 when the property was once again sold.

Mimosa remains in stunning condition and forms a wonderful colonial mansion precinct with Lyndhurst mansion. All the owners over the years are to be congratulated for the way the mansion has been preserved in such good condition and I sincerely hope the new owners will continue with this tradition.

Main Information & Text Sources -
“Mansions, Cottages and All Saints” – Book by Audrey Holiday & Walter Eastman
Australian Dictionary Of Biography - Harry Benjafield
Hallway Photo Source - Mimosa Hallway

2 comments:

  1. It is neither the sandstone nor the slate that is surprising. But it is the square central balcony, narrow red pillars and the use of timber instead of wrought iron work that make this house look Edwardian. Pretty impressive for an 1879 house!!

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    1. I just love this place. It's a great looking property.

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