Elizabeth Bay House
ELIZABETH BAY HOUSE - 'ONCE THE FINEST HOUSE IN THE COLONY'
Originally surrounded by an extensive 54 acre garden and described as a 'botanist's paradise', Elizabeth Bay House is a Greek Revival villa designed by John Verge.
Alexander Macleay, Colonial Secretary of New South Wales, 1826 to 1837, and his wife, Eliza, commissioned John Verge, the most fashionable and accomplished architect of the day, to design a 'Grecian villa' for their harbourside land grant.
Elizabeth Bay House was built between 1835 and 1839 and was known as 'the finest house in the colony'. The sophistication of the design and quality of craftsmanship evident in the joinery, stonework and plasterwork has rarely been equalled in Australia. The architectural design pivots on the symmetry of a domed oval saloon with a sweeping staircase leading to the first floor gallery. Many regard this as the finest staircase in colonial architecture.
The interiors reflect the lifestyle of the Macleays who lived there from 1839 to 1845. Alexander Macleay was a renowned gentleman scientist who established a significant library and entomological collection and had extensive interests in botany. The entire Macleay family was involved in scientific activities, from collection to illustration.
Opened as a house museum in 1977, Elizabeth Bay House's interiors have been carefully reconstructed by using inventories of furniture and contents prepared when Macleay left the house in 1845. Appropriate furniture, wallpaper, carpets, soft furnishings and fittings have been acquired. The original paint schemes have been recreated and frame the original, elaborate cedar door and window cases. The marble and stone chimney pieces are original and of the finest craftsmanship.
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