Just what the doctor ordered

I  WAS surprised to find this stunning heritage-listed building smack on the fringes of Freo’s CBD is a home and not medical consulting rooms, but that’s really a bit of an anomaly, and it’s played an important role in keeping Portsiders healthy during most of its 114 years.

Anyone who’s driven along South Terrace into Freo would know Kelso House, a grand two-storey Federation building near the junction of Wray Avenue and Howard Street which was restored a dozen years ago and is now a beautiful entry statement into the historic Fremantle town centre.


It was built by one of the port city’s entrepreneurial success stories; post master and whaler William Bateman, and the story goes that he was trying to lure a creditable doctor to the fledgling city. With nine kids in tow, perhaps Bateman was looking for mates rates.

Whatever the motivation, it worked and Dr Sydney Hicks was the first to take up residence, followed by Dr Peter Garbin and then the notable Dr Walter Blaxland, who was related to the Blue Mountains explorer but more famous locally for his refusal to don a hat.

Private hospital

Kelso was converted into a private hospital in the 1920s under Dr Charles Kerr, later reincarnating as medical suites.

Along the way some utilitarian changes were made to the property and the precious stables out the back have gone, but now it’s been bought back to its former glory and its medical history has been softened with some homely touches, my first thought was that it would be a top-grade B&B.


With five bedrooms, four bathrooms, formal and informal lounges and a chef’s kitchen, it’s almost a no-brainer. Particularly when guests will only need a coin toss to help decide whether to stroll into the city or down to funky South Freo.

Thick stone walls keep the traffic noise at bay and there’s balconies over the terrace or out the back so visitors can warm up over an English breakfast tea in the morning sunshine or cool down with cocktails in the glow of sunset; it’d be a dream to market.


But someone who simply wants to live there in their own manor would enjoy all the heritage fixtures, including high ceilings, ornate ceiling roses, wide floorboards in glowing condition, and a spectacular timber staircase that features the Oregon pine I love finding around old Freo heritage buildings.

This is one of those rare opportunities that come up in Fremantle to buy one of its heritage gems in great condition (so no reno nightmares) and in a central location.

As the agent and I nodded to each other in mock imitation of two entrepreneurial gents: “I could live here.”



111 South Terrace, Fremantle
All offers presented by November 12
Damien Anthony
0418 188 830
Creme Real Estate
9430 8882


Leave a Reply