Fremantle Stuff > Buildings > Cranworth Villa

Cranworth Villa

195 High St, house of Philip Cranworth Webster, aka German Club, Manhattan House, Buchholz Hall


What follows is from the Heritage Council

House, 195 High Street (originally 241 High Street) was built in 1886 for Philip Webster, who had purchased the block a year earlier. In 1886, the property was listed in the Rate records as a dwelling house, garden and sheds.
Philip Webster was born in 1829 and died on 26 September 1893. He married twice, first to Maria Elizabeth (1825-1862) and then to Emily Caroline Duffield (1845-1868). Webster owned Fremantle's Esplanade Hotel in the 1860s and 1870s, and was listed as a nurseryman in the 1876. During the 1890s he was an auditor for the Fremantle Municipal Council. He has been remembered as 'a great lover of flowers'.
Records indicate that the Moreton Bay Fig Tree (Ficus macrophylla) was planted in the late 1880s by Webster in the grounds of his large house. This particular tree is purported to be the progenitor of many of the Moreton Bay Fig trees in Fremantle, including the Proclamation Tree (which was planted in 1890). Webster is also credited with planting the Moreton Bay Fig trees around Kings Square and St John's Church grounds.
Following Webster's death in 1893, the property passed to his Trustees. His son, Philip Cranworth Webster, and a Duffield relative were the executors of the will, which left the house to his housekeeper in trust during her lifetime. According to local legend, the will specified that one of the conditions of the will was that the housekeeper preserve the tree. [It should be noted that this speculation does not appear to have been verified against Webster's will.]
In 1896, the house was occupied by Frank Connor and Henry Stubbs, a butcher. Maud Morris, a boarding house keeper, was listed as the occupant in 1900. The following year, the house was used as the club rooms for the German Club, which had been formed in 1901 after a meeting in the Park Hotel. Mr L Ratzzi, the German Consul, was the chairman and meetings were held in Manhattan House (195 High Street).
By 1904/05, Bunning Bros had purchased or leased the land to the north and rear of the house for use as a timber yard. A 1908 PWD plan shows a large brick house with full a length front verandah wrapping around the north-east elevation; a brick addition to the rear (not shown on a 1902 diagram), galvanised iron outbuildings (shown on 1898 plan).
In 1914/15, the property was listed in the Rate records as Buchholz Hall and Bunning Bros (club rooms and timber yard). In this year, title passed to Philip Cranworth Webster (1867-1948). The German Club closed in August 1914 due to World War I. Many of its members were interred.
By 1940, Bunning Brothers' timber yard had gone and there was a tennis court on the old yard site. By this time, the street numbers had changed and the Webster house was designated No. 195 High Street. Philip Webster junior died in 1948, and title to the property passed to his estate. By 1951/52, the house was occupied by Jean Mortimer and was used as an (unregistered) boarding house.
In 1959, new owner Max Canning applied to the City of Fremantle for permission to convert the building for use as a doctor's surgery.
During the 1970s, development encroached significantly on the Moreton Bay Fig tree at 195 High Street. Following a development application for the site lodged with the City of Fremantle in 1987, the tree was nominated to the Tree Society of Western Australia for consideration for entry on their Register of Significant Trees. Following an assessment process, the tree was included in the Register for its aesthetics, size and age. The tree was accepted by the National Trust of Australia (WA) as being significant on 18 January 1988. At the time, it was considered to be in good condition, approximately 95 years in age, 32 metres in height with a circumference of 6 metres and a canopy spread of 18 metres.
In 1987, John Cattalini (who had been a part owner of the property since at least 1966) became the sole owner.
In 2001, an application was made to the City for removal of the tree. The application stated that the tree required high maintenance as it continually dropped leaves and fruit, which also attracted vermin such as rats. The owners' concerns brought out a strong community response in support of retaining the tree. Following consultation and negotiation, the City prepared a management plan for the tree to assist with its maintenance.
A Heritage Assessment was prepared in Sept 2009 by Carrick + Wills Architects for a DA submission to Council (DA0384/09) for alterations and signage to 197 High Street, adjacent.
Physical Description
Built in 1886 195 High Street is a two storey masonry and iron house with a symmetrical façade designed in the Federation Queen Anne style of architecture. Walls are rendered masonry with rendered quoining. The roof is hipped and clad with corrugated iron.The front façade is dominated by a two storey verandah extending the full width of the residence and returning along the side elevations. The place is set well back from the street and below street level. A rendered limestone wall defines the boundary line.
A mature Moreton Bay Fig tree (Ficus Macrophylla) is located at the north-east corner of the site. The surrounding landscape has altered significantly around the tree. It is located in a raised brick garden bed and is flanked on three sides by a later (post 1960) single storey chemist building constructed to the east of the house.
The place includes a Limestone Feature (s).
A Heritage Assessment was prepared in Sept 2009 by Carrick + Wills Architects for a DA submission to Council (DA0384/09) for alterations and signage to 197 High Street, adjacent.
High degree of integrity (original intent clear, current use compatible, high long term sustainability).
Medium degree of authenticity with some original fabric remaining.
(These statements based on street survey only).

References and Links

Entry for Philip Webster

Heritage Council entry

Garry Gillard | New: 28 August, 2015 | Now: 9 November, 2019