I walk past this building at 129 Durham Road Sunshine a few times a week and don’t give it much thought - it’s been empty since I moved out West two years ago. The art deco ‘ish’ features made me think it was built in the first half of the 20th century but it’s so large I wondered if it was built for a purpose other than as a residential house.
I was going to ask if anyone knew what it was previously used for but a google search did reveal some of it’s previous history as the Sunshine Boys Hostel.
The Sunshine Boys’ Hostel was opened by the Victorian government in May 1959, partly in response to the overcrowding at Turana, the only state-run centre for children committed to state care until 1961.
It was established to accommodate up to 15 young men, who were “not normally acceptable in the hostels conducted by voluntary organizations, who have no interested parents or other relatives, and who require something more than the usual help and supervision, as regards employment and leisure”.
The Department stated that work in the Sunshine-Footscray districts was freely available for the 15 residents and that the ‘parents’ at the Hostel, Mr and Mrs L.T. Lewis, had created a ‘family’ atmosphere.
I also found a 2009 Brimbank City Council Cultural Heritage Study that lists 129 Durham Road as containing a weatherboard house built in the 1920s and that by 1930, it was the home of Headlie Taylor, famous for the invention of the Header Harvester.
I’ve also found indications that more recently, it may have served as a drug and alcohol detox centre but can’t confirm that.
Can anyone fill in the gaps? When did it stop being the Sunshine Boys Hostel? What have been some of it’s more recent uses? And when did it get boarded up, waiting for someone to try and torch it?
Edited to add: A couple of locals kindly shared what they knew. The house is likely still in the ownership of the State Govt and was most recently (perhaps at least between 2006 – 2010) a Women & Children’s Drug & Alcohol Service - Home-Based Drug Withdrawal Service. The program is now called Westadd Women’s Program and operates out of Footscray.
It also looks like the house remained the home of Headlie Taylor and his family for a long time, as this engagement notice in the 15 June 1946 edition of The Argus shows:
TAYLOR – STEWARD. – Gweneth Shirley, youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H. S. Taylor. 129 Durham road Sunshine, to Edward (ex-A.I.P) third son of Mrs. S. Steward and the late Mr. C. W. Steward. 3 Alice street. Sunshine.
And if you are looking for a ‘renovators delight’ in a great location, apparently it’s worth around half a million.