Matear family snaps up former Fitzroy church from Sydney heiress

Matear family snaps up former Fitzroy church from Sydney heiress
Matear family snaps up former Fitzroy church from Sydney heiress

The former 1860-built Bible Christian Church in Gore Street, Fitzroy failed to attract any bids at its onsite October 2013 auction.

But it has been since sold for $3 million with the buyer understood to be Ros Matear, from the extended Victorian family who owned the former Hotel Australia on Collins Street until 1987 and the admired Portsea cliff-top mansion, Ilyuka until 1995. The family, with enduring reputations in hospitality and the visual arts, was subject of the 1997 book by John Monks, From Post Office to Pub: the Matear family.

The Fitzroy offering had previously sold in June 2012 for $3.41 million to the Sydney shopping centre heiress Betty Saunders-Klimenko. It had sold at $684,000 in 2001. It sold at $15,500 in 1976. Fitzroy has an $890,000 median house price. 

The October auction had a $2.95 million vendor bid placed by the Nelson Alexander auctioneer Arch Staver. Converted 10 years ago into a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house with a six-car garage, the auction attracted the attendance of the AFL football commentator and farmer Brian Taylor.


The bluestone building was used as a furniture factory after it ceased operating as a tabernacle.

It features an ornately carved and suitably religious front door and an original banner in the lounge-room proclaiming “Holiness becomes thy house”. Despite its vastness there is not too much space for the hanging of her husband, artist Rick Matear's paintings.

Late last year Ros Matear sold her lofty Cairns Memorial Presbyterian Church, East Melbourne apartment abode for $2.4 million through Nelson Alexander. Title Tattle recalls it was bought from legal eagle Jeff Browne in 2007 for $2.05 million.

Back in 2000 it was then gun-property columnist Antony Catalano, now Fairfax Domain chief executive, who reported Jeff Browne and then partner, the newsreader Anne Fulwood stole the show at its Biggin & Scott auction securing the apartment with a $1.015 million winning bid.

The decision to buy was made on the spur of the moment, with Fulwood having inspected the property only moments before the auction.

The 30-square two-level apartment in Cairns Apartments, a fire-gutted former church on the Hotham and Powlett Street corner, converted into 11 apartments. 

East Melbourne apartment prices have a $546,500 median.


Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

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