Villa Alba, a two-storeyed residence with rendered masonry walls and a slate roof, stands opposite Studley Park, overlooking the Yarra River. It is believed to have been first built before 1863, but substantially remodelled and enlarged in about 1882-83 for William Greenlaw, the Manager of the Colonial Bank of Australasia. Although the house and its tower must always have been a landmark in the area and the architecture is unusual, almost Norman in style, it is the interior which is the most remarkable feature of Villa Alba.
How is it significant?
Villa Alba is significant to the state of Victoria for architectural, historic, social and aesthetic reasons.
Why is it significant?
Villa Alba is of significance for the outstanding late Victorian painted decoration throughout its interior. The consistently high standard of design in the decoration, and high, and at times, superb quality of its execution, the variety of illustrative techniques, the variety of illusionist effects and the hierarchy of treatments between the rooms of the house all contribute to the significance. The decorative scheme is also of significance as a fine example of the work of the leading Melbourne decorators, the Paterson Brothers. It is one of their first interiors to depart totally from the use of pre-prepared wallpapers of repetitive designs and it is a rare and comprehensive extant example of their domestic work. The decorative schemes in the ground floor hall, the dining room, the drawing, the vestibule, the stair hall, the upper hall, bedroom 1 and the boudoir are also individually of significance as outstanding examples of Victorian decoration.
The property is of significance for its association with William Greenlaw during his most prosperous and prominent years. The scale and design of the house and its surrounding landscaping (of which some ancillary elements survive) are a reflection of the Greenlaw family's social role and aspirations.
[Further information on Villa Alba can be obtained from its website http://www.villaalbamuseum.org/ ]