W. B. Fox's Villa

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W. B. Fox's Villa at 94 Hodgkinson St Clifton Hill, Victoria, Australia, was also known as The House of the Gentle Bunyip, an intentional Christian community, established by Athol Gill. The building was subsequently re-purposed as supported accommodation for sufferers of schizophrenia.

William Fox's Villa

W. B. Fox's Villa was constructed in 1867 and is listed as heritage significant [1] as "socially significant as focus of conservation battle". It is now included in a Heritage Overlay in the Planning Scheme of Victoria (Australia). The Baptist Church, now Community Church of St Mark[2], and church hall, now Atholl Gill Centre[3] were built next door in the early 1900s[4].

The villa retains a large garden on the corner of Gold St and Hodgkinson St that overlooks the Darling Gardens, set out in 1864 by Clement Hodgkinson.

The House of the Gentle Bunyip was named after the childrens book. The Bunyip of Berkeleys Creek by Jenny Wagner[5] about a mythical Bunyip. It was the final subject of the book Brimstone to Bunyip[6]

Demolition Proposal and Community Campaign

In November 1997, the Baptist Union of Victoria sold the house to developers who applied for a permit to demolish the house. citation needed

Residents Group, The 3068 Group [7] nominated the house to be listed as state significant on the Victorian Heritage Register, but only local significance was not supported by the Heritage Council.

The residents of Clifton Hill and North Fitzroy banded together to defend the historic property at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. VCAT subsequently issued a permit for demolition.

The residents set up a picket to prevent demolition of the house. A caravan was hired, a brazier donated, and tarpaulins were hoisted for protection from the severity of sun and storms. A roster of 100 volunteers, from 18 to 85 years old, was compiled.

The picket was manned for 427 days, 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. [8] It was the longest community picket in Australian history.

Conversion to Social Housing

The house was converted to social housing following a $3.4 million makeover.[9] by pHArchitects[10] and was opened by the Hon Richard Wynne in 2008 [11]. The development included two other historic dwellings adjacent to the church.

In 2001, Fox's Villa was included in the Heritage Overlay and protected from demolition.


  1. Heritage Council Victoria. "William B Fox house, later House of Gentle Bunyip". Victorian Heritage Data base. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  2. "Gospel of St Mark Screen". Community Church of St Mark. 2014-06-09. Retrieved 2020-03-13.
  3. "Athol Gill Centre". Community Church of St Mark. 2014-06-09. Retrieved 2020-03-13.
  4. "VHD". vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au. Retrieved 2020-03-13.
  5. "The Bunyip of Berkeley's Creek by Jenny Wagner". www.penguin.com.au. Retrieved 2020-03-13.
  6. Peterson, Richard (1999). Brimstone to Bunyip: churches of Collingwood, Clifton Hill and Abbotsford, 1852-1999. Abbotsford, Vic: Collingwood Historical Society. ISBN 978-0-9577727-0-0.
  7. the3068group.org
  8. pg Tuesday, 6 September 2005 ASSEMBLY pg539
  9. https://hnb.dhs.vic.gov.au/web/pubaff/medrel.nsf/LinkView/6C0C86C90CB42532CA2570680003A7A0?OpenDocument
  10. "pH architects - The House of the Gentle Bunyip". pharchitects.com.au. Retrieved 2020-03-13.
  11. https://hnb.dhs.vic.gov.au/web/pubaff/medrel.nsf/LinkView/8591978A93273248CA2573EC0004F6F7?OpenDocument

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