Grange. Adelaide. Curved driveway and rear entrance to N'Kola Donga House built in 1912 for the Scarfe family. It is on the esplanade on top of one of the coastal sand dunes.
Grange. Adelaide. N’Kola Donga House.
Well known Adelaide architect Frank Kenneth Milne, received a commission in 1912 to build a seaside esplanade holiday house for Frederick and Mary Scarfe, one of the owners of the Harris Scarfe Department stores in Adelaide which were established in 1866. Milne had been articled as a trainee architect with another practice in 1900. He worked in Sydney for a few years and returned to Adelaide in 1909 to establish his own architectural practice. His early work included many hotels and the famous Adelaide Oval Score Board. He practiced architecture into the 1950s.
N’Kola Donga was designed by Milne in the Californian bungalow style. Although British colonials had referred to veranda surrounded houses in India as bungalows the term was only widely taken up in America and especially in California from around 1905. It was part of the craftsmen building style which swept America with lots of external use of wood, stone and natural materials, wide verandas, uncomplicated roof style etc. So when the Fred Scarfe’s family took up summer residence in N’Kola Donga in 1912 it was very avant guard for Adelaide. The house has a main north south hallway, doors onto the veranda, brick and wood fireplaces, five servants’ rooms and a separate chauffeur’s room and garage at the rear of the property etc. Aztec design irregular broadening door surrounds were used, with pressed tin ceilings with elaborate geometric patterns, and a modern interior bathroom (there was a separate one for the maids) with black and white geometric patterned floor tiles. Royal Doulton toilet pans were used for all bathrooms including the chauffeur’s toilet.
Fred Scarfe took up permanent residence at N’Kola Donga around 1920. They were certainly noted by the social columns of the newspapers of Adelaide as living at N’Kola Donga by 1922. In 1929 they left N’Kola Donga and moved to their new residence in one of the most prestigious avenues of Adelaide - Victoria Avenue in Unley Park. Scarfes named their new house Fusby. N’Kola Donga was sold and had several owners until it was purchased by ICI Chemicals (Imperial Chemical Industries) for use as their manager’s house when the salt pans and chemical industries were set up at Osborne and Dry Creek in the 1930s. ICI sold the house in 1945. In 1949 Max Engelhart of Mount Benson acquired the house and in his will he left it to the Scout Association of South Australia which took it over in 1979. They in turn sold it back to a grandson of Max Engelhart a few years afterwards.