As you head down Marathon Road, there’s a street on the right that’s so small you might miss it: Marathon Avenue.
But take a turn into Marathon Avenue and you’ll find a row of elegant heritage-listed terrace houses that have looked out across Darling Point for over 130 years.
Subdivision of the land at “Mrs Darling’s Point” began after the completion of New South Head Road in the 1830s opened up access to the area.
But it would be more than 50 years before allotments were advertised for auction at a site bounded by what was then called Breakneck Road (now known as Marathon Road), Darling Point Road and Marathon Avenue.
The original subdivision advertisement proclaims land is available at “Darling Point adjoining Greenoakes” with “choice sites on the main road for auction sale”.
The auction was held on Friday 7th September 1883, and “liberal terms” were offered, of “one-fourth deposit” with the balance due in 6, 12, 18 and 24 months at 6% per annum.
The terraces of Marathon Avenue are built
The rate book of 1884–5 lists John Furlong Morgan as the owner of the land where the four terraces comprising numbers 1 to 4 Marathon Avenue now stand.
The first record of the terraces themselves appears in 1888–9, though Heritage NSW lists their construction as occurring in 1887.
Built in the Victorian Filigree style, the terraces were originally identical, with rendered brickwork on a sandstone base and a slate roof. And while modifications have occurred over the years, all four retain their original ground floor windows and cast-iron lace panels on the top balcony.
The first tenants of Marathon Avenue
Around 1884, Marie Wallis emigrated from the German town of Barth, on the Baltic Sea, to another seaside settlement: Sydney.
Initially, she worked as a governess before deciding to set up her own school. She leased the terrace at number 1 Marathon Avenue from Mr Morgan for her school – which she named Ascham, after Sir Roger Ascham, tutor to Elizabeth I.
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The school began with just nine pupils, but soon Miss Wallis began taking boarders, so she leased the unoccupied terrace next door to house her new students.
Morgan leased number 3 to a Robert J. Browning, while he and his family lived in number 4, where his wife gave birth to their son on 10 July 1887.
As with most Victorian homes of note, the terraces were named. Records from 1889 show that numbers 3 and 4 were named “Tarnee” and “Invermay” respectively, and within the next ten years number 2 became known as “Languin” and number 1 “Lamphey”.
For reasons now lost to us, by the end of the century, Morgan changed the name of number 3 to “Lydstep” and number 4 to “Giltar”. Heading into the new century, number 2 also had a name change, to “Laugham”.
In 1912 J.F. Morgan offloaded two of the terraces, but it appears they stayed in the family, with numbers 3 and 4 transferred to the ownership of Reverend T. Morgan of Bowral.
In 1920, the same two terraces changed hands again, this time going to Mabel D. Morgan. Ten years later, numbers 1 and 2 became the property of Martha Beaumont Morgan.
In 1941 terraces 1 and 2 were sold to Jessie Mary Grey Street. A leading feminist, Street began the United Associations of Women in 1929 and was the first and only female member of the Australian delegation at the 1945 founding conference of the United Nations.
Over the years, each of the terraces has seen modifications: some had their balconies enclosed, others underwent internal structural alterations. Today each terrace fronts the street in gleaming white with beautifully manicured gardens, each looking every bit as elegant as the day it was built.
What else is on Marathon Avenue?
Marathon Avenue may be a tiny street but it has an enormous amount of old-world charm.
Another notable Victorian home is tucked away at the very end of Marathon Avenue, behind a white wall at number 5. Called “Orme”, it was constructed in 1875. It was later redesigned in the 1930s by architects Josling and Gilling and Woollahra Council describes it as being a mix of “Gothic and Mediterranean Villa styles”. Orme’s expansive lawns, gardens, pool and grand rooms are able to be rented for functions and events, evoking the Great Gatsby era.
Want to call Marathon Avenue your home?
Number 4 Marathon Avenue has been tastefully renovated throughout and is currently on the market. Call me today for your opportunity to secure this piece of Darling Point history.