What is significant?
The Kenilworth squatting run located to the north-west of Cavendish at the junction of the Wannon and Dundas Rivers, was taken up in 1846 by Thomas Norris, of Kout Narien at Harrow. He sold his interest to Matthew Gibson who soon sold out to the partnership of James Riley and Edward Barker. They subdivided the run into North and South, James Riley keeping the Northern section now known as Kenilworth. It is likely that the pise house was built at this time. It is a very rare survivor and, although now in ruins, can be compared with the only other known contemporary example in this area, the second part of the Spring Vale Homestead complex. James Riley sold to Thomas McKellar in 1855 and he in turn sold to John Mackersey. It was he who built the brick and stone homestead in 1863 which was designed by John Shanks Jenkins, an important local architect and engineer who went on to have a very successful and distinguished career in Melbourne. Messrs. I. and A. Bell built it. Both the architect and the contractors had just been responsible for St John's Presbyterian Church, Cavendish, largely the gift of John Mackersey. The house, which although substantial was very conservative in style, was completely remodelled in the mid-twentieth century by the Brumley family. The builder then is believed to have been Douglas & Henry of Hamilton. Mackersey also built the brick woolshed and the brick men's quarters about 1864. The former retains a very high degree of integrity and is in good condition. The latter is relatively intact but is in very poor condition. It is thought that the architects were Walter and Auty of Warrnambool. Importantly, John Mackersey kept a detailed and competent diary. By the end of the 1860s, it seems the usual problems of the pastoralists and the process of Land Selection beat him and he retired to New Zealand. The next owner, also a good businessman and leader of the community, Edward Crossley also failed against the rabbits, sheep diseases and the 1890s bank crash. The Kenilworth Homestead complex passed through various hands and was something of a landmark example of Closer subdivision in the early twentieth century. The Brumley family retains Kenilworth.
How is it significant?
The Kenilworth Homestead complex is of historical and architectural significance to the community of Cavendish and the Southern Grampians Shire.
Why is it significant?
The Kenilworth Homestead complex is of historical significance for its long sequence of distinguished and influential owners and as a reflection of their successes and failures. It is of particular significance for its associations with the Mackersey and Crossley families, the latter being unusual turning to pastoral pursuits after succeeding on the central Victorian goldfields. It is of architectural significance for its range of buildings including the very rare example of pise construction and for its relatively rare use of brick construction, which, in the case of the homestead, was combined decoratively with stone. It is of further architectural significance for the association of the main homestead with the important architect John Shanks Jenkins, although the homestead has been much altered.