Tuesday, 30 October 2012

History of Your Mt Evelyn House

Searching for the history of your house?

A: Is your house mentioned in one of our publications?

The Mount Evelyn History Group has several publications that may help you 

research your house: 

Tracks to Trails, a history of Mt Evelyn, Janice Newton, Paula Herlihy & Karen 
Leadbeater Phillips, 2001. Histories of some notable houses are included. The book 
is available from the History Group or from the Post Office or Station House, price 
$25. It is also in the Library, or you can read a customer copy at Morrisons CafĂ©. 

The First Selectors of Mt Evelyn, Janice Newton, 1996.
The booklet summarises 
files from the Department of Lands, mainly from the 1870s to the early 1900's. 

The Street Names of Mt Evelyn, Paula Herlihy, 1996. Information on the origins of street names and some of the local identities. 

There is also a Shire of Yarra Ranges Heritage Study, but research was done on 
only some of the properties we put up for investigation. 

B: To find the history of a house.

1. Check if the house has already been researched. Finding the history of a house is 
much easier if someone else has already done the research and recorded it.

2. Look at your title and note any names/dates of previous owners in case we already 
have information on them. Land Titles are legal documents and should be the most 
accurate source of information. Old-style deeds used to record all previous owners 
for that block (but not when it was part of an earlier property or selection). 
Unfortunately, modern title deeds no longer list previous owners, so people don't 
always have access to this information about their property. If there is a mortgage, 
the deed will be with the bank. The documents of sale should at least have the date 
of subdivision and the name of the previous owner.

3. The past details of the block can be looked up at the Department of Sustainability 
& Environment (formerly Lands Department), but the files are not very user friendly. 
Have as much information as possible beforehand. Get the title details from the 
street address and the reference for the previous title. Then go to the Land Titles 
office to continue your search. There are different methods for the old (common law) 
system, and the new (Torrens) system. See http://www.dse.vic.gov.au/property-titlesand-
maps. The History Group does not conduct these searches but Lilydale and 
District Historical Society (L&DHS) will do research for a fee (contact details below).

4. Try to date the house – does the style match the date of the subdivision? Even if 
the original house is gone, the land may hold clues to its history. What style is the 
garden? Are there any outbuildings from an earlier period? Look at the building and 
its environment for any interesting points, e.g. on a hill, near a waterway. Which 
creek catchment is the land located in? 

5. Check Tracks to Trails and our newsletter Things Past to see if the property or 
owner is mentioned. Indexing of back issues of Things Past is in progress. 

6. Look at The First Selectors of Mt Evelyn. Janice Newton has researched the 
Lands Department files for names of early owners and correspondence. Thanks to 
her good work, we can almost always find the original selector of a property. 

7. Check the Rate Books. Both Mt Evelyn History Group and the Lilydale & District 
Historical Society (L&DHS) have copies of the former Shire of Lillydale Rate Books 
1872-1945 on CD. They are scanned but not indexed in any way, so a visual search 
of page after page is required. The listings are by years, divided into Ridings and 
then listed alphabetically by owner’s name. You need to have some information 
about previous owners to begin your search. You can trace a particular building back 
from recent times to the year in which it was first rated. The year before should 
record the site as vacant land. Begin your search when the street had most of its 
houses built or at the year of the best water authority plan. 

8. Does your house have a name, or did it ever have one? Most houses had names 
until the 1950s and many of these older-style homes till stand. We are compiling a list 
of Mt Evelyn house names, past and present – we may have your house listed. 

9. Directories, e.g. Sands – use in conjunction with the earliest appropriate water 
supply authority plan of the area – typically plans show buildings which can be 
matched to directory listings. 

10. We have plans of some old real estate subdivisions. 

11. Once you have identified the past owners of your house, you may find 
information on them in institutional histories. The history of Mt Evelyn Primary School 
has recently been updated. Histories of the CFA, Tennis Club, Girl Guides, Melba 
Centre and some local churches have been written and a history of Morrisons is in 
preparation. Mt Evelyn Football Netball Club has an online history at: 

12. Look at the Lilydale Express for mentions of any names you have. The Lilydale and District History Society have bound copies. 

13. Additional sources include:
  • property service files, especially water. 
  • other Local Government and State Government records 
  • rural land records – pastoral runs and land selection files 
  • institutions and organisations, e.g. schools, churches, clubs, RSL 
  • architectural guides – tender notices in newspapers etc 
  • art works and illustrations 
  • biographies 
  • real estate agents. 

14. Sometimes just a Google search of owners’ names will bring up old newspaper 
references on Trove or information on family history sites.

15. Ask around (long-established neighbours are a useful resource). 

We appreciate your sharing the results of your research with us, so that we can 
help future researchers. 

C: General books on house research 

The National Trust Research Manual: trace the history of your house or other 
places, Celestina Sagazio (ed.), Halstead Press, Broadway N.S.W., 2004. 

How to Trace the History of Your House, Des Regan and Kate Press. Penguin, 
Ringwood, 1992. 

A Heritage Handbook, Graeme Davison and Chris McConville (eds), St Leonards 
NSW, 1991 (especially Chapter 14 – ‘How to Research the History of a House’). 

Australia’s Home, Robin Boyd, Melbourne University Press, 1952. Now out of print, 
but a classic work on the history of Australian house styles – very useful for dating. 

D: Old Maps

No luck? 

Mt Evelyn was previously called Evelyn, and before that Olinda Vale, along with a 
few other local names. The boundaries of Mt Evelyn and McKillop (same post code) 
have altered slightly over the years. Your property could have been part of Lilydale, 
Montrose or South Wandin. However any Mt Evelyn property would have been in the 
Shire of Lillydale from 1872 to 1994 and in Yarra Ranges after that. If you’re not sure 
what area your property was in, try to locate some old maps. We have some maps, 
or you could try: 

The State Library map collection, 

Yarra Ranges Regional Museum, 

Lilydale & District Historical Society will do research as a fund-raiser. 
Contact Sue Thompson, Lorraine Smith or Sandy Ross. 

Montrose Historical Society, PO Box 446, Montrose, Vic 3765. 

Mont De Lancey Historic Homestead & Museum, 

Eastern Regional Libraries.
The website has suggestions on researching 
house histories: 

Material adapted from Celestina Sagazio 2004, The National Trust Research Manual. 

Compiled by Paula Herlihy & help from other history group members 

Mt Evelyn History Group webpage -  www.mt-evelyn.net/Community-Groups/Mt-Evelyn-History-Group.aspx