Slice of history

SITTING proudly on Fremantle’s millionaires’ row this Solomon Street home dominates its neighbours in terms of grandeur, gravitas and sheer heritage credentials.

Merchant baron Elias Solomon built this imposing mansion in 1887 and for obvious reasons named it Ocean View.

Fremantle mayor for three terms and the city’s first federal MP, Solomon oversaw the construction of some of Freo’s most iconic buildings, including the Fremantle markets, Victoria Pavilion (Fremantle oval) and the literary institute (now Dome).

His home represented his status and he didn’t stint on cost, with pine floorboards imported from Oregon, a Chicago windmill used to pump water to the house, decorative fireplaces, ceiling roses, knee high skirting and 4.5 metre ceilings.

What is now a grand sitting room doubled as the city’s first synagogue, while next door the soaring 4.2 metre timber bifold doors pull back to create a massive ballroom.

French doors lead onto the verandah where you can imagine dancers taking a break to catch a cool sea breeze, and romantic dalliances in gardens that sweep down to the street.

During the Great War, Ocean View was used as a military hospital and later a maternity hospital.

By the 1980s, time had taken its toll and the old home was to be demolished and replaced with units.

Thankfully Ken Dobinson, a rough diamond of a man with a big vision, successfully fought to save Ocean View and it is now on the state, national and council heritage registers, and is also National Trust listed.

Dobinson worked hard to bring the old girl back to her former glory, replacing the roof and the unusual bull-nosing over the verandah, stripping back floors and paint from ornate Oregon pine doors and window frames, and restoring the windmill.

But father time caught up with him before he could complete his dream project, and Ocean View is now back on the market.

While most of the rooms have been restored, the kitchen is a work in progress, but it still has its original double-door, cast iron wood stove.

Flanking the stove is a huge store room/pantry and overhead a space that was once used to cure meat.

Sitting on a whopping 2949sqm, the front gardens sweep majestically down to the street, and there’s plenty of space for an alfresco off the kitchen.

This is a rare chance to own a piece of WA’s history, while enjoying an opulent lifestyle close to Fremantle.

by JENNY D’ANGER

134 Solomon Street, Beaconsfield
from $2.499 million
Chris Day
0426 819 721
One Agency South
6311 3333

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