16 Wood Street

16 Wood Street
North Melbourne VIC 3051
photographer, Jennifer Wood

Also known as
Previous Address Erin House, Wood Street Source: Photo: Melbourne Council photo archives
Constructed 1883
Style Victorian, Late: 1875-1901
Architect Unknown
Builder Unknown

Timelapse Building Images


Wood Street around 1960 after demolition of south side for new apartments

Supplied by Rob Oke


Detail of above 1960 photo – note palm tree in No 26 Wood Street

Supplied by Rob Oke


Erin Terrace across Donovans Lane from Erin House 16 Wood Street

Supplied by Rob Oke


16 Wood Street

Supplied by Rob Oke


Street party in Wood Street

Supplied by Rob Oke


16 Wood Street – note height of palm

Supplied by Rob Oke


!6 Wood Street – note height of palm

Supplied by Rob Oke


16 Wood Street – sketch by Angela Williams

Supplied by Rob Oke

Land Details

The first is detail for Wood Street from MMBW 1897 Melbourne Map. The second is detail of the Compiled Town Record Plan showing the allotments that were sold in December 1865 and January 1866. The third is detail of the MMBW Drainage Plan of showing houses, stables etc. All were supplied by Rob Oke. Note the separate land at the rear of 16 and 18 Wood Street which had a wooden two-storey horse stable covering the whole of the  land.

Building Details

Parapetted, two-story stuccoed brick free standing, single-fronted house with two-level, intricately patterned, cast-iron verandah and iron fence. Drip moulds cover the door and lower window opening, whilst other ornament includes the arched parapet entablature, stepped parapet cornice and parapet urns.

There are four rooms plus a bathroom downstairs and four rooms plus a bathroom upstairs.

Originally there were an outdoor accessed shed/ laundry and a toilet and at the back of the block a wooden two-story horse stables paved with bluestone and wooden blocks. These stables covered the back of 18 Wood Street as well.

i-Heritage database

Subsequent Building Alterations

The house around 1968 was still  basically the original structure, but had a Repair Order on it and renovation was required to make it habitable. At this time the vestibule of the doorway to the backyard was situated off the hallway after the second room from the front. In the renovation/repair this was turned into a shower and internal  toilet. The third room which was the original kitchen became a dining room.  An opening was made to a new concrete floored  single story double-brick addition of a kitchen and laundry/toilet (incorporating a toilet near where the the original outdoor toilet had been). The backyard was now accessed from the new kitchen. A gas heater was installed where the original wood fired kitchen stove had been.

In the 1980s the kitchen was expanded and renovated to incorporate the laundry/toilet area with the toilet being removed. Cork tiles were  added as the floor covering. The north facing  rear wall now consisted of a full height glass window and glass sliding door. The original slate roof was replaced with second hand slate and the front verandah was replaced in the original style. Hydroponic heating was added. In around 2000 the kitchen was again renovated and the wooden floors in two ground floor rooms and the hallway were polished.

Rob Oke

Architectural Features

  • Building Ornamentation

    As noted above, while of a common type, the house facade is well ornamented.

Heritage Significance and Listings

Heritage Listings and Explanatory Notes

The iHeritage database states:

Architecturally of a common type, but near original and well ornamented, which contributes to a valuable streetscape: of high regional importance. Historically, associated with a prominent personality from the type of industry which thrived in the area: of local importance. It is a major part of an impressive residential streetscape.


From To Owner More Info Data Source
1835 Clans of the Kulin Nation
1835 1865 Used for grazing cows
1866 1870 C. Hill Compiled Town Record Plan
1871 1898 William Donovan Title
1898 1917 Trustees of William Donovan estate Title documents
1958 unclear Trustees of Charles H Donovan estate Title documents
unclear 1974 Rumah Projects Proprietary Limited Title documents
1974 Ongoing Rob Oke and Kay Oke Title documents


From To Resident More Info Data Source
1883 1884 William Rushworthy (Warder) Sands & MacDougall 1884
1885 1898 William and Annie Donovan and children Sands & MacDougall
1898 1903 Annie Donovan and her four children Sands & MacDougall
1905 1930 George McCarthy (wine merchant), Sands & MacDougall
1935 Hy Pedley Sands & MacDougall 1935
1940 Mrs E F McKimmey Sands & MacDougall 1940
1945 1960 Mrs L McGregor Sands & MacDougall
1961 1963 Jne Fadricius Sands & MacDougall 1961/63
1964 1965 William Cook Sands & MacDougall 1964/65
Around 1968 Around 1969 Unoccupied – under renovation Rob Oke
Around 1970 1974 Shared house – about six residents Rob Oke
1974 present Rob and Kay Oke Rob Oke

Social History

This property is part of the town allotment No 4 of 84A in North Melbourne and was surveyed in 1858, sold in 1865 and then sub-divided. William Donovan secured a title in 1871 – it was later to be No 16 Wood Street. At the time he owned and lived in a wooden house next door on land later to become 18 Wood Street. (This social item should be read in conjunction with Donovan`s story in the People section and the item on Wood Street in the Streets section).

In 1883 Donovan built the grand two-story house and named it Erin Terrace. It would have been connected to the newly available water and gas supplies. It would also have had sewerage pan collection.  There was a pathway from the side lane that went in front of the stables and allowed pan collection from both of Donovan`s houses.  The two-story horse stable behind the house also covered the rear of his next door property. This stable was accessed by the side lane which is now known as Donovans Lane. At some stage 18 Wood Street land covered by the stables was given a separate title and this title has always been owned by the owner of 16 Wood Street. The stable burnt down around 1960 when derelict and reportedly used by homeless people for shelter.

Donovan rented the newly built house to William Rushworthy for a year or so during which Donovan`s first wife Susan died. He soon married Annie Hamilton and they moved into the new house in 1885. His death and the departure of Annie and their children five years later is covered in the People story about Donovan.

The owners and residents are listed above. The owner selling in 1974 had purchased the house as an investment and had to first repair and renovate it. He complained at the settlement meeting that during the repair process whenever the building inspector visited he managed to find additional repairs that needed doing. This repair/renovation did nothing regarding the burnt down stable apart from clear the area. The Donovans Lane boundaries were not fenced, nor was the boundary with 18 Wood Street. The rear brick wall of the house continued to the side fence on Donovans Lane. This empty and unfenced site was a dumping ground for rubbish and building waste. When cleared a floor of bluestones and wooden blocks was uncovered along with a number of horseshoes. The area was fenced and reconnected to the main property in 1975.

Lemon scented gum/bloodwoods were planted in 1976 in the 16 Wood Street backyard, at the rear of 18 Wood Street and at the rear of 20 Wood Street. The one in the 16 Wood Street backyard was removed in 2015, but the other two majestic 40 metre gums remain.

The current owner has over the years had two former residents call by. One was the daughter of Mrs L McGregor and the other a German couple working briefly in Australia in the early seventies. And in May 2018 a 94 years old grand daughter of William and Annie Donovan visited on the 120th anniversary of Donovan`s death.

Eliza McCarthy

Argus, Feb 3rd 1908 page 1

1908 McCarthey, twine merchant and his family


William Donovan

Herald, Jun 14th 1897 page 2

William Donovan

North Melbourne Courier, May 27th 1898, page 2

Anne Donovan

Melbourne Advocate. Oct 11th 1923 page 17

Context and Streetscape



GRZ2 (General Residential Zone 2)
DDO66 (DDO66 Hospital Helicopter Flight Path Outer Area)
HO3 (North & West Melbourne Precinct)


As noted in the Streets item on Wood Street, No 16 is part of an impressive Victorian streetscape from No 8 to No 30.

Other Information


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