31 Bell Street, Fitzroy

  • Architect: Unknown / Builder: Charles Bird
  • Built: 1882
  • First owner: Charles Bird
  • Other owners: Charles Farr, Eduardo Aguiar
31 Bell Street – photo used when it was most recently sold in 2016

The following history was provided by Andy Lanskis.

At its completion in 1882, Charles Bird is recorded as living in No.31 prior to selling the home in 1883 to Charles Farr.

Charles Farr, owner 1884-1911

(Many thanks to Rodd Farr for this information posted on Ancestry.com)

Charles Frederick Farr, photo posted by Rod Farr on Ancestry.com

Charles Frederick Farr was born on 14 September 1848 in Howden, Yorkshire East Riding, England. He travelled then to Australia with his parents James Everard Farr (1812-1877) and Emily Impey (1818-1906) and his step brother James Farr when he was just an infant arriving on 29 June 1849 in Geelong where he and his family live. Charles had brothers and sisters, though the girls do not survive more than 4 years.

Charles commences work with the Geelong Advertiser Newspaper, apprentice to compositor in 1864 and remains there till 1872. In 1873 he commenced work with the Argus Newspaper as a sub-editor. During this time he also is part of the Volunteer Artillery as a Gunner (1866) and is promoted to a Corporal (1868).

“Corporal Farr of the Volunteer Artillery was in charge of No. two gun during firing practice on 3 Dec 1869. Geelong Advertiser, Current Topics, Shell practice, page 2” (Sourced from Rod Farr, Ancestry.com). Charles was about 21 years old in this photo.

I suspect Charles F. Farr needed the large house for his wife, Jane Walter Johns (1849-1923) who was also from Geelong, whom he married in 1872 at 23 years. Sometime probably at the start of 1873, Charles and Jane move to Melbourne for the Argus role and their first child is born in August 1873 ‘Pauline Emily Jane Farr ‘(1873-1957) in Fitzroy. Their second daughter ‘Edith Maud Farr’ was born in 1877 (1877-1909) in Macarthur Place, Carlton and following the two girls, Charles Frederick Farr (1879-1929) and Herbert Alfred (Bert) Farr (1881-1955).

So with four children a large house was required. In the new house they welcomed another child Amelia (Millie) Margaret Farr (1884-1957) and another son Walter Percival Joshua Farr (1889-1940). I love this photo – it says 1905, but Rod has it circa 1895 – but it is most likely Jane and one of her two daughters on the balcony and one of the boys on the street.

Photo from Rod Farr – The photo is suspected to be from around 1896 – with Charle’s wife and daughter on the balcony and maybe Herbert Farr in front of the house.

Charles Farr lived in the home till he passed away in 1911 (aged 61 years). In the Fitzroy City Press, under the Council Business on 17 February 1911, the following was noted “The late Mr. Charles Farr – On the motion of Cr. Barr, seconded by Cr. Snadden, it was resolved “that a letter of sympathy be addressed to the widow and family of the late Mr Charles Farr, of Bell St. A very old resident”.

Eduardo (Edward) Aguiar, 1915-1923/24

In 1914, Margaret Aguiar became the caretaker of the Bell Street school and the family moved from 6 Greeves St, Fitzroy, where Juanita had been born on 30 March 1912. Margaret was born in Wales and her husband Eduardo (Edward) Ibarra Aguiar was from Valparasio, Chile. The family remained at the house until about 1923-1925 when they moved to 303 Station Street, North Carlton, where he lived until he passed away aged 70 years on 14 June 1936. His wife Margaret who was 20 years his junior and Juanita moved to 364 Nicholson Street. According to “Fitzroy – Melbourne’s First Suburb”, section 31 ‘Backyard and Beyond: Seven Households Between the Wars’ written by Suzanne Dance: “Juanita had her own dress making business in Little Collins Street, and by the time she retired she was head of the fashion department at Emily McPherson College.” Margaret became an Australian citizen in May 1942.

Photo of 31 Bell Street, Fitzroy – taken from “Fitzroy – Melbourne’s First Suburb”, section 31 ‘Backyard and Beyond: Seven Households Between the Wars’ written by Suzanne Dance. The caption for this photo reads “The Aguiar family in about 1915 – Eduardo, Margaret and Juanita – with maid outside 31 Bell Street (next door to Bell Street Primary School No. 111).”
Drawing of 31 Bell Street, Fitzroy as remembered by Juanita Aguiar, image from “Fitzroy – Melbourne’s First Suburb”, section 31 ‘Backyard and Beyond: Seven Households Between the Wars’ written by Suzanne Dance.

Juanita is photographed here (published in the Argus), on 24 February 1954 waiting for the Queen to arrive at Melbourne airport. She is accompanied by Mrs M Connell and Iris Air.

Juanita Aguiar, Photo from the Argus taken in 1954 as they wait at Melbourne Airport for the arrival of the Queen


Photo published by Rod Farr on Ancestry.com. This image was from 1 June 1996. Rod Farr (great grandson of Charles Farr) took his father to the auction. When the auctioneer found out, he used the information as part of the sales pitch! At this stage the owners still have a wooden picket fence, though it has been replaced. It is then changed sometime after this to an iron one.

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