Built in 1847, Como Historic House is an intriguing mix of Australian Regency and classic Italianate architecture.
Established by Edward Eyre Williams as a new home for himself and his wife Jessie Gibbon, Como has been immersed in glamour and romance since its early beginnings.
A romantic tale suggests that Edward had proposed to Jessie at Lake Como in Italy, and they named their new home in honour of this happy occasion.
Edward and Jessie were members of the colonial elite, and hosted many a gathering of the social set of Melbourne. The couple and their four children, however, did not reside at the property for long, selling it to investor Frederick Dalgety in 1852.
Less than a year later, Dalgety onsold the property to Scotsman John Brown and his wife Helen.
John and Helen spared no expense and got to work adding a second story, tower and new outbuildings. It was the Browns who engaged renowned gardener, William Sangster, to transform the bush land into five acres of breathtaking gardens
However, in 1861 John’s financial situation changed drastically for the worse and he was forced to mortgage Como to the Bank of Australasia.
In 1864, Charles Armytage bought the estate at auction for £14,000 and, with his wife Caroline, raised his ten children in its gracious surroundings.
Charles died in 1876 and Caroline in 1909, but their daughters Leila, Constance and Laura lived on at Como and left an indelible impression there.
In 1906 the legacy of romance at Como was continued when Constance Armytage married the Aide-de-camp of the Governor of Victoria, Captain Arthur Fitzpatrick. The Table Talk magazine described the wedding as the “social event of the year.”
The Armytage family were to remain at Como for over 95 years, until they handed it over to the National Trust in 1959 to preserve a beautiful representation of colonial Victoria and its prosperity.
The house still remains furnished with Armytage family furniture and provides a glimpse into the lives and times of a dynasty.
The National Trust has also worked hard to restore the gardens to their original glory, including replicating the vegetable gardens once used by the household.
Today the Trust presents the property as one of Melbourne’s top attractions, where visitors can come and appreciate the late 19th century architecture andlandscaping, while still enjoying the creature comforts of the 21st century.
GHOSTS OF COMO HOUSE