|"Frankfort House" 1905|
Stead House is an excellent example of a remnant grand estate house that is the product of a series of alterations and additions by owner Samuel Cook, manager of The Sydney Morning Herald in the late 19th century.
The current Italianate presentation of the house to Leicester Street was carried out by Samuel Cook in 1892, as an embellishment of Mitchell’s “Waterloo Villa”, renamed “Frankford Villa” in 1864 and subsequently “Frankfort House” during Cook’s ownership. The Italianate makeover can be dated precisely due to detailed surveys found in the various field books of Public Works Department surveyor D. C. White who surveyed “Frankfort House” in 1891, and again in 1893.
|1891 Frankfort House Survey|
During Samuel Cook's ownership the house was set in a renowned garden with stands of exotic trees, a large Moreton Bay Fig, carriage loop and much vaunted rose beds to the east. Following the demise of Cook in 1910, his children subdivided the estate and sold it off, primarily as housing lots, but retaining a parcel of land associated with the house (including four house allotments to the north on Victoria Road, and one to the south fronting Leicester Street) at the corner of Victoria Road and the then newly created Leicester Street.
It was purchased by The Salvation Army in July 1911 at which time the house, renamed “Hopeleigh”, was used as a home for girls with "misplaced affections". They deemed it “...rather small and will allow only 32 beds for inmates...”. In 1912 a wing was added to the rear northern portion to increase accommodation and it was licensed as a hospital in November 1916. In 1926 an additional wing was added to the rear southern portion and included specialist medical/obstetrics facilities.
|Hopeleigh Maternity Home, 1936|
The ensuing years saw ongoing changes such as the enclosure of verandas and balconies and internal partitioning to increase capacity. The 1912 wing also effectually reoriented the building to present north to Victoria Road rather than east to Leicester Street and a formal garden was established with trellised walks between “Hopeleigh” and Victoria Road.
The early post WWII period saw increasing pressure on accommodation and compliance with regulations. In 1955 construction of a purpose-built maternity hospital to the Victoria Road frontage commenced and that building was opened as the new Bethesda Hospital in March 1957. The former maternity hospital was refitted as nurse's quarters with some ancillary facilities, such as a kitchen and laundry, servicing the new hospital out of the basement.
Bethesda Hospital in turn became difficult to operate due to its size and ongoing compliance with regulations and hospital operations ceased in July 1973. “Hopeleigh” was named “Stead House” in honour of the matron of Bethesda Hospital, which was refitted as a convalescent home during the mid 1970's. Stead House continued as a hostel for female students and women of low income in the ensuing years however the difficulties of fire regulation compliance and ongoing maintenance costs, together with the closure of the adjoining convalescent home in 2007, prompted The Salvation Army to dispose of both the properties.
Stead House was listed on the State Heritage Register (SHR) in March 1999.
In recent years, the house has been redeveloped, bringing Stead House back to some of it's original charm.
|Photo: Inner West Courier August 8, 2012|
Reference: Text & photographs adapted from wikipedia article (unless otherwise referenced).