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Boomerang c.1926 | by Sydney Heritage
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Boomerang c.1926

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The house was constructed in 1926 for Frank Albert, sheet music/harmonica millionaire; its architect was Neville Hampson; its garden was designed by M.R. (Max) Shelley, possibly in conjunction with Hampson. It was built on the site of an earlier house called 'Boomerang', being one of a row of Edwardian homes built on a 1875 subdivision of Elizabeth Bay estate.

 

Mr A.J.Doust, a landscape gardener active in the Eastern Suburbs in the late 1920s and 1930s is also known to have worked on Boomerang's grounds, perhaps on its maintenance or adaptations as plantings matured.

 

The private cinema is one of few in Australia and appears a miniature version of the State or the Regent Theatres. It was hailed as one of the wonders of the cinematic world, when it opened in 1928. It was never open to the public and few but the priveledged guests at Sunday evening screenings, knew of its existence. Programmes were given out to guests attending sessions. It had burgundy velvet curtains, over 400 concealed lights, sat 200 and was meticulously detailed, with a suite of film processing laboratories and dark rooms behind the projection room. A contemporary film magazine, commenting at the time of its opening, described the set up as the most extravagant in Australia and went on to call it 'the best motion picture outfit in the world'.

 

The garden and Shelley's involvement were featured in an article in magazine "The Home" of 1 February 1929, with photographs by Harold Cazneaux. Clearly based on Hollywood mansions of the period and well known in Sydney society at the time, Boomerang was the scene of much entertaining and subsequent to his death, to much land speculation.

 

Albert also reputedly owned the adjoining property to the west, today called 'Berthong', on which the boathouse of Boomerang survives today. A 1936 aerial photograph by J M Leonard shows Boomerang's formal cruciform harbour-front garden, flanked by palms and shrubberies, with Berthong's open lawn to the west, and another house immediately to the east.

 

1962 Frank Albert dies, house remains empty for 16 years - neither son appeared to be interested. A live-in caretaker and gardener were the only occupants.

 

From 1978-96 a range of owners bought and subdivided it part was acquired by Sydney City Council to extend Beare Park to avert an unsympathetic proposed block of flats to its north-east.

 

>>1978 sold to speculators Tom Hayson and son Ian, who quickly subdivided the estate, and part which was acquired by Sydney City Council for an extension of Beare Park.

 

>>1978 House and c.1 acre with 3-car garage and chauffeur's quarters resold for to oil recycler Peter Burnett and wife Astrid, becoming reputedly Sydney's first million dollar sale ($1.2 million) The Dawsons redecorated at some expense.

>>1980 auctioned but passed in.

>>1981 sold to businessman Peter Fox

>>July 1982 sold after Fox's death in a car crash to bookmaker Mark Read, who installed the swimming pool on the northern lawn, relocating the sundial to a garden bed in the north-east corner.

 

>>1985 sold to property developer Warren Anderson, and expansively furnished with Regency antiques, paintings and French empire clocks.

>>1991 listed for auction but did not attract a buyer.

>>September 1993 Bank of New York took posession, after public legal disputes with Anderson. Listed for mortgagee auction. Tense competing team security guard stand off before auction, triggering Supreme Court proceedings to evict Anderson.

>>1993 telephone pager entrepreneur Nati Stoliar and wife Miki bought the property.

>>Post 1996 sold to Kowloon based expatriate funds manager Duncan Mount and wife Sally. Major improvements to property carried out under their ownership.

 

>>2000 listed for auction, selling in early 2002 to John and Julie Schaeffer.

>>2005 sold to the Fox family of Linfox.

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Taken on February 21, 2012