Ballarat at Home: A house laden with history

NOW on house number 19, restoring homes has been a passion of the McIntosh family.

Greg and Samantha McIntosh, a Ballarat City councillor, had looked at Ellsinor for 20 years before eventually buying it at auction two years ago. 

“We’ve done a lot of old homes over the past, but this has been one we’ve probably loved the most, all of us,” Cr McIntosh, said.

 “It’s been a bit of a challenge for us all, but a lot of fun and one that we’ve looked at, admired and wanted.”

She said the garden was what first attracted them to the grand and central Ballarat property. 

“We’ve always referred to it as the secret garden. It’s a garden that has grown over the past 150 years,” she said.

Originally owned by JJ Fitzgerald in the mid-1850s, Cr McIntosh said it was laden with Ballarat history. 

It was then occupied by Pompey Elliott, Ballarat’s war hero, and later by Sir Henry Winneke QC. 

The family researches every property they renovate, acquiring information about the property before they make any decisions. 

Having restored much of the house so far, work has not yet finished with plans pending to make an extension with a kitchen and family living out the back that will open out into the garden. 

“All our new will be respective and sympathetic of the old, that’s how we go about restoring old homes,” Cr McIntosh said.

“For those who don’t look closely, they may not even notice.” 

She said they planned to relocate a cottage that was added on to the house, and put it in the garden at the end of one of the paths. 

Cr McIntosh said highlights of the house included the arched window and the study. 

“The little study at the top of the stairs, right at the front of the house, looks out over Mt Warrenheip and is a bit of a treat,” she said. “It’s a great way to enjoy the garden ... and look across Ballarat to the distance.”

Cr McIntosh said they had changed a lot in the house since they took it on two years ago. 

“When we took it on it was in an interesting state. It had been done up in the ’50s so there was a lot of those pinks and greens from that time,” she said.

“We’ve given it a bit of an uplift and taken it back to similar colours it would have been in its original time.”