The Bend precinct is located on the northern side of Burwood Highway, Belgrave, set around a picturesque bend or turn in the road known locally as 'The Bend'. The precinct is on the high side of the Highway, and elevated above the main road. It comprises five properties in total, being a group of five consecutive residences. The properties all largely date from the early 1920s; share a range of valued built form and architectural characteristics including those derived from the 'bungalow' and 'hills bungalow' types; and have been a prominent and highly visible collection of buildings sited at the entrance to Belgrave for over 80 years.
How is it Significant?
The Bend precinct is of historical and aesthetic/architectural significance to the Shire of Yarra Ranges.
Why is it Significant?
The Bend precinct is of local historical significance. Buildings in the precinct generally date from the early 1920s, when Belgrave was undergoing a change from a modest timber township into a tourist destination, aided significantly by the extension of the railway from Upper Fern Tree Gully in 1900. Guest houses and often substantial holiday homes, as per the subject houses, were established in this period, together with shops, coffee palaces, cinemas and cafes, which all serviced the burgeoning tourist trade. The Bend houses were also prominently located and highly visible on approach to the township, emphasised by their featuring in historic images and postcards. Their location in the evocatively named 'The Bend' additionally reinforces the value attributed to this picturesque bend in the road on the way into Belgrave.
The Bend precinct is also of local aesthetic/architectural significance. Important built form characteristics shared by the dwellings include their adaptation to the hilly topography and irregularly shaped allotments; their elevated siting to maximise views; and in some cases angled orientation to the street. The houses can also incorporate several internal levels; have side entries; and are enlivened by projecting bays and faceted bay windows, dormers and decorated gables, and verandahs. Roofscapes include prominent gables and pitches, with some complex forms, and bracketed eaves.
Other important precinct characteristics include heavily vegetated blocks on steep allotments to the curved alignment of Burwood Highway, often with mature trees to the rears and sides of properties, providing a backdrop to the houses. These attributes enhance the experience of the precinct on the approach to Belgrave, and combined with the orientation of the properties and the spaces between buildings, afford views of the houses 'in the round'. The precinct also has elevated walkways and embankments reflecting the change in levels, built up or contained behind retaining walls clad in local field stone, and at different grade to Burwood Highway.
Architecturally, The Bend houses are all linked to what was often known in early twentieth century Australia as the 'bungalow'. This building form was increasingly characterised as 'Californian', although Australian bungalows of the period mixed a range of contemporary approaches, including the Greenes' Pasadena bungalow, the 'Craftsman' or East Coast America bungalow, British Arts and Crafts influences, as well as elements of earlier Australian Federation architecture. More specifically, The Bend houses can also be regarded as a 'hills bungalow' type, with many similar dwellings built locally in the early 1920s which often served as mountain holiday houses. Moreover, the hills bungalow as a type can be traced back even further to the single-storied house with prominent verandah commonly found in India, which was a form popularised throughout the then British Empire and southern United States by visiting troops and government officials.