Leura, the trophy home Bellevue Hill spring 2015 offering

Leura, the trophy home Bellevue Hill spring 2015 offering
Leura, the trophy home Bellevue Hill spring 2015 offering

Businessman Ken Allen and wife Christina have listed one of Sydney's finest estates, the 1891 on Forbes mansion, Leura.

It comes with initially cautious $30 million plus advisory.

Some 29 years since last sold, the tightly held home has just had the six owners through its 125 years.

Its listing is perfectly timed as leading eastern suburbs agents are complaining there's simply not enough prestige property to satisfy the latent spring market demand.

Set on 4,260 square metres Leura is a trophy home unparalleled in grace, style and historic significance.

It was built on the Bellevue Hill ridge line for the Knox family, of the then burgeoning Colonial Sugar Refinery empire. The middle aged Tom Knox had Leura, and his older brother, Edward had nearby Rona, probably both designed by the same architect, Walter Vernon Liberty. Tom Knox, who had married into the Victorian pastoralist Ritchie family, was the managing director of Dalegty, the stock and station agency.

Those pioneering Knox brothers chose the hillside panorama long before Sydney Harbour’s famous icons, partly because of the unsanitary conditions down on the water's edge.

"It is a monument to the Federation Queen Anne style of architecture from the era," Ray White Double Bay listing agent Michael Finger says.

Finger's Ray White colleague Di Wilson says the property was purchased in the mid-1950s by Cranbrook School for boarders.

With privacy at the very end of a circular driveway off Victoria Road, the eight bedroom home combines traditional opulence and modern design. There's a tennis court and resort swimming pool...and private level lawns overlooked by wide north facing verandahs. 

It last traded through Michael Finger in 1986 for a then very impressive $7.3 million when sold by the top end home restorer Bill Shipton, who'd engaged building designer, Roderick Learoyd, trained at the Oxford School of Architecture, to assist in its renaissance.

The 1986 sale to the New Zealand businessman heralded the brief mid-1980s trend of Kiwi entrepreneurs crossing the Tasman to try their luck in Sydney, all with trophy home acquisition to boot. They included the Goodman Fielder Wattie chairman, Pat Goodman who secured another Shipton home, the 1917 Double Bay mansion, Verona. 

Most departed after the 1987 stockmarket crash, with Sydney not ever seeing the likes of Sir Frank Renouf, John Spencer, Rod Petricevic and Colin Reynolds again.

The calendar company patriarch Ken Allen and his wife, Christine, have homes in New Zealand and London.

This article was first published in The Sunday Telegraph.

Leura, the trophy home Bellevue Hill spring 2015 offering

Bellevue Hill

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