What is significant? By the late 1830s, settlers were pushing out from Melbourne in all directions in search of new pastures for their sheep and cattle. While an 1837 survey of the area now known as Hawthorn showed only the station of overlander John Gardiner, the area had attracted interest from other pastoralists, agriculturalists and also timber cutters who were drawn to the large stands of Red Gums and Stringy Bark trees in the area. In the early 1840s, Dr James Palmer [later Sir James and first president of the Legislative Council], himself an owner of a flourishing timber business, established a punt across the Yarra River at Hawthorn near his property on the Richmond side of the river. A bridge replaced Palmer’s punt in 1851. With the increased communication between the eastern side of the Yarra and Melbourne, the village of Hawthorn expanded rapidly to serve the outlying agricultural, timber cutting and brick making activities. By the mid 1860s, the suburb of Hawthorn was well established. The first town hall had been built, the churches of the numerous denominations had been constructed, and leading Melbourne citizens had chosen Hawthorn as their home.
The house Zetland at 16 Yarra Street Hawthorn stands on St James Park, a subdivision of Burwood [later Invergowrie], the new mansion which James Palmer had constructed on his large landholding on the Hawthorn side of river near the newly-completed bridge. Palmer apparently organized the subdivision of his large estate himself, but no sales of subdivided lots were made until shortly after his death in 1871. Rate books for 1872 record vacant allotments in the ownership of theatre entrepreneur George Coppin in the newly-formed Yarra Street on the former Palmer estate. Two adjoining allotments passed into the ownership of Charles Black. Zetland was constructed in 1873-74, and by 1876, Black had constructed similar houses on both lots. The houses were designed by William Ellis, the architect responsible for the design of the prominent Fitzroy Town Hall at about the same time. By 1876, Charles Black had died and both properties were offered for sale. Accountant John Robertson bought 16 Yarra St and the house name Zetland is first recorded during his ownership. John Robertson occupied the house until 1887 but the house remained in the ownership of the Robertson family until at least the 1901.
How is it significant?
Zetland is of architectural and historical significance to the State of Victoria
Whyis it significant?
Zetland is of architectural significance for its association with its designer, the important architect William Ellis, and its aesthetic characteristics, particularly its rare seven-arched ornamental ironwork verandah and balustrading.
Zetland is of historical significance as a prominent house within the prestigious St James Park subdivision of the grounds of Sir James Palmer’s estate which is characterized by its hilltop location, wide allotments and the uniform quality of its housing. Zetland, through its scale and architectural refinement, typifies the class of house sought after by members of Melbourne's prosperous middle-class of the 1870s.