429 Napier Street, Fitzroy

June 2021 picture from Realestate.com

In the late 1830s the land of Fitzroy was subdivided into sections along with other areas north of the city. Within Fitzroy there were 12 sections, the most undesirable, being section 85 which consisted of majority swamp lands. I am not sure who purchased section 85 of Jika Jika parish, but, at some point between the late 1830’s and 1970’s the land becomes the property of J.M. Smith Esq. a solicitor from England who was fast making his fortunes in Melbourne. Over the period from 1840-1880 the large sections of Fitzroy were broken down and subdivided for the purpose of building houses (refer Fitzroy – Melbourne’s First Suburb, p.10-11, The First Suburb by Miles Lewis). The last of these sections was section 85. In 1876, a plan for the subdivision of the block bordered by Cecil St (N), Young St (W), Westgarth St (S) and Napier St (E) was created. You can see from the map below that there was a strange design applied to the sites. In particular, on Napier St, site 12, 14, 16 and 18 were double blocks.

I am not sure if Reynolds and Oliver purchased the land at the initial release, but they managed to purchase site 12 (Reynolds) and site 13 (Oliver) which became the terraces of 427-433 Napier Street. Reynolds remains the owner of 427 and 431 until the houses were sold after his death in 1928.

Section of the 1876 Plan of Subdivision of part of section 85 Parish of Jika Jika Fitzroy, 1876 – State Library

John Richards (Salesman) – resident 1894-5

Mrs Jane Henderson – resident 1900

The above photo was taken in April 1901. The photo is taken from Gore street, looking west along Westgarth Street. There were no houses between Gore and Napier Street north of Westgarth Street, so the three houses in the middle of this picture are 427-431 Napier Street. It is the oldest photo I have located of these houses. (Junior Cricket: Fitzroy La Mascotte v. South Yarra. Scene of the exciting play on Saturday at Smith Street Reserve, Fitzroy, The Australasian, 27 April 1901, p.26)

Miss Mary Armfield – resident 1905

Albert S James – resident 1910

Henry Anders – resident 1920

James Bills – resident 1925

James Bills (Watchman) and Elizabeth Jane Bills (Home Duties) – resident 1925 (Australian Electoral Roll, 1925).

The pair of houses, 427 and 429 were sold in 1928 for 1270 pounds (The Argus, 28 May 1928).

Leslie J Whiting – resident 1930

Percival Fraser – resident 1935

William Brown – resident 1940

Martin P Hurley – resident 1945

In 1947: Catherine Grace Hurley dies at 429 Napier Street passes away “HURLEY – On April 16, at 429 Napier Street, Fitzroy, Catherine Grace dearly beloved daughter of Benjamin and Mary Densley of Yarrawonga, loved sister of Thomas and Neville (Mrs Francis, deceased)” (The Age, 18 Apr 1947, Family Notices).

Martin P Hurley – resident 1950

G Ancora – resident 1955

H A Bilston – resident 1960

Resident not recorded in 1965

LM Irwin – resident 1970-1975

Number 427 is on the left, then 429 – Committee for Urban Action (between 1970-1974) – Identifier CUAFY62/6-7 – State Library

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