In the 1910s and early 1920s, a number of large mansions with extensive gardens were built on the southern side of Victoria Street Strathfield including ‘Belclutha’, ‘Bellevue’ and ‘Brockby Lodge’.
The house ‘Bellevue’ 8-10 Victoria Street was built in 1914 for Ernest Laurence (1876-1963), a solicitor, Alderman (1915-20) and Mayor (1917-18) of Strathfield. ‘Bellevue’ is a two storey Federation house constructed of rendered brick with feature stone. The house is set well back from Victoria Street Strathfield and features extensive front gardens. This is one of Strathfield’s finest homes and best examples of the country style estate which Strathfield was known for.
The black and white feature photograph is from the Daily Telegraph in 1923, when a garden fete was held at ‘Bellevue’.
Laurence was the son of solicitor Charles Laurence, who served as Mayor of Manly Council and Alderman of Ashfield Council. He also achieved fame at age 10 as the ‘Little Boy from Manly’, after writing to NSW Premier W B Dalley in 1895 offering contents of his moneybox to patriotic funds for Sudan Contingent. Using this incident as inspiration, cartoonist Livingston Hopkins developed the cartoon the ‘Little Boy from Manly’ to symbolise New South Wales in the period before Federation. This cartoon featured for many years in The Bulletin magazine.
During Laurence’s ownership, the property time included a tennis court (later subdivided as 6 Victoria Street). Laurence lived at ‘Bellevue’ until 1935, when ownership of the house was transferred to Alfred Heine of Heine Engineering for £6450. In 1952 ‘Bellevue’ was transferred to the NSW Department of Community Services and renamed Winbin, which, in the local, Aboriginal dialect, means “children’s home”. The Department expanded the west wing, to create a children’s dormitory. In 1992, the property was sold by the NSW Government at auction and has reverted to private ownership.