Amaroo Crescent

Posted by
Jill Mercer
1960 onwards

Amaroo Crescent existed in name only in the early 1960s. Dennis and Joan Georgeson sold the bottom of their property in Pretoria Avenue to give access. Most of the houses were built in the 1960s when the Sydney School of Architecture was popular. This style reacted against modernism and the architecture was related to the site so that as many trees and natural rock outcrops as possible were kept. Rustic dark clinker bricks and natural oiled timber were used. Rather than being flat, roofs were raked and combined with low gutter lines. Four architects built their own houses in the street and Pettet Sevett Project Houses at numbers 4, 6 and 15 were in harmony with the area. Native gardens were popular. At one stage the street was going to be heritage listed but as early as the late 1970s changes were happening and a great opportunity was lost. The streetscape was spoilt by people replacing open carports which gave views of gardens and houses with garages with roll-a-doors.

2 Amaroo Crescent
Number 2 Amaroo Crescent, a block of natural bushland, was purchased in the early 1960s by the present owners. At this stage the road was unmade but three houses, numbers 1, 3 and 8, had been built. The architect Stan Symonds spent time at the site before coming up with a design. The plan would probably not be passed today as later the architect was unable to build his own home as it was not considered a “Mosman House”. In the 1960s there were no such problems, in fact the Council engineer Brian Leckie was interested and encouraging.

Only one tree had to be removed and holes were made in decks for others. Rock outcrops, trees and native plants were preserved in the natural sandstone landscape.

The Warringah Expressway was being built and beautiful old convict-made ‘North Sydney White’ sandstock bricks were able to be recycled and used for internal walls, as was white marble for the floors. On the same day that a truck load of bricks was being delivered a letter from the council arrived to say the road was to be cleared for surfacing the next day. With the help of the next door neighbour, dentist Sandy Couston, the night was spent throwing bricks up onto the steep block. These bricks then had to be cleaned of the old mortar.

The concrete shells of the house were sprayed onto single sided formwork by the man who had made Jane Mansfield’s heart shaped swimming pool in Hollywood. Curved reinforced forms were used to conquer the steep site and strong engineering was required as conventional form was avoided. “A Spaceship Has Landed in Mosman” was the headline of an article in the Sun Herald when the house was completed.

A natural bush garden proved difficult and Betty Maloney’s advice on such things as putting a fish head under each waratah proved unsuccessful. In the garden there are now mostly exotics.

A natural watercourse runs across the back of the property and a part of the earliest road to Middle Head in the form of a stone wall is still there.

1 Amaroo Crescent
Number 1 Amaroo Crescent was built in the 1950s and is accessed via Gooseberry Lane which was named after Bungaree’s wife.

3 Amaroo Crescent
Number 3 Amaroo Crescent was built by Sandy (John) and Helen Couston. The house was architect designed and surrounded by native garden which blended with the bush. The house was extensively renovated by Geoff and Sue Knox.

4 Amaroo Crescent
A Pettet Sevett design was put on this block by Michael and Ruth Dyer. The block was covered with flannel flowers which survived some years. As residents, the Kays were followed by Carl and Loma Lindroos who kept the native garden, in fact won a prize for it. Some minor renovations have kept the character of this clinker brick and redwood house.

5 Amaroo Crescent
Architect Leon Mousset built this house for his family using old sandstock bricks with a lime mortar so they can be recycled. They sold to Len and Dena Berlin. The present owner has plans to redevelop.

6 Amaroo Crescent
Jim and Laurie MacKay built this Pettet Sevett house with a tiled roof and informal clinker bricks. It was an honest use of natural materials.

7 Amaroo Crescent
Keith and Patricia Hone built a dark coloured clinker brick timber home. Keith was an engineer at Mosman Council for a time. There have been numerous owners since then who have made minor modifications to the house.

8 Amaroo Crescent
This was the Punch family home, later modified by the Harris family who used the Architect Geoff Felton. Albie Thoms and Linda Slutzkin added a pool, painted it gumleaf green, and created a native garden for the birds. Albie was part of the ‘Yellow House’ group of artists and an experimental film maker. Linda was a creative educator at the Art Gallery of NSW. Together they curated an exhibition about the artists’ camp at Sirius Cove. They rediscovered the sight of the camp and made a film about it. Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton were the most famous artists there.

9 Amaroo Crescent
Architect Alan Williams used the New Zealand ‘Cliplock’ timber construction for his house which progressed down the steep slope. This was the first house in Australia to use the method. Boyd Munroe was the second owner.

10 Amaroo Crescent
Two architects built this house as their home in the 1970s.

11 Amaroo Crescent
This house was built by the present owners in the 1980s.

12 Amaroo Crescent
The Ellison house.

14 Amaroo Crescent
This house is a new development completed in 2009.

15 Amaroo Crescent
An Ed Lipman designed house has replaced the original Pettet Sevett owned by the Moore family and later lived in by a doctor and his family.

Jill Mercer · 29 September 2009

Your comment

What an excellent history of a street! Thank you Jill.
I live in a Pettit & Sevett house designed by Ken Wooley in Clifton Gardens. I've always considered these houses to be particularly well suited to a bush environment. Now, of course, they are almost 'Heritage'.

— Kate Eccles · 14 September 2010, 17:39 · #

We had a flat in 46 Almora Street, rented to us by Laurie Mullens and her Mother, seven pounds per week, and if did all the lawns and odd jobs, this was after work, I was on the Post Office and other extra jobs needed to pay our way, lovely times, I see on the Google Maps the house has been extended quite a lot.Nice days.

— Terry brown · 24 October 2013, 22:03 · #

My name is Theresa Watts nee Williams and I was about 12 when my father, Alan Williams, designed and built 9 Amaroo Cres. He bought the sandstock bricks from a demolished house in, I think, Strathfield. I remember my room on the second level down ( my brothers had the 2 rooms on the top level) had for a while a dreadful smell. It turned out to be a possum that had been trapped in the wall during building!
My mum, Midge Williams, filled the internal courtyard with the most beautiful Cymbidium orchids that flowered for months at a time. They were in flower when the house was photographed for Expo68(?) in Tokyo.
It would be lovely to see the house again as Dad was very proud of it. He was always wanting people/clients to come to see it, much to my Mother’s fear as she had to keep it looking like a show home!!
Theresa Watts

— Theresa Watts née Williams · 23 February 2017, 22:11 · #