27 Coventry Rd Strathfield. Photo Cathy Jones 2020

‘Verona’ 27 Coventry Road Strathfield

By Cathy Jones

‘Verona’ is located at 27 Coventry Road Strathfield on the corner of Meredith Street.  It is built on the 1878 Village of Homebush estate and is one of the oldest surviving houses on this estate and in the Strathfield district.  The house was built during 1886-1887 for its owner Andrew Arndell (d.1936) and wife, Amelia (d.1935). Arndell was the great-grandson of Surgeon Thomas Arndell, R.N., one of the medical officers who arrived in Sydney on the First Fleet in January 1788. Arndell joined the Postal Department in 1872, and he became appointment clerk in 1896, and chief clerk in 1904. Later he held the position of head of the appointments branch and upon his retirement was Deputy Postmaster General.

Arndell was the owner of ‘Verona’ until c.1918, when ownership of the house transferred to Thomas Weymark. Weymark sold this house to Douglas James Gibbons, a builder, in February 1927 for a purchase price of £1500. Around 1936, Gibbons sold the house to Hilda Myrtle Fulton, who lived at ‘Verona’ until c.1942, when the house was transferred to Florence Grennan. By 1951, the house was owned by Theo Richard Rossi, a company director.

References

1936 ‘MR. ANDREW JOHNSTON ARNDELL’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette (NSW : 1888 – 1961), 28 August, p. 4. , viewed 12 Jul 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article86044692

1935 ‘OBITUARY’ (Mrs Amelia Arndell), Windsor and Richmond Gazette (NSW : 1888 – 1961), 19 April, p. 12. , viewed 12 Jul 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article85798090

1889 ‘Family Notices’, The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), 29 June, p. 1. , viewed 12 Jul 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article28337841

Department of the Valuer General NSW – Valuation List – Valuation District of Strathfield

Sands Sydney and Suburban Directory

Strathfield Council Building Register

Strathfield Council Valuation Lists

5 comments

  1. Verona

    Thank you Cathy for informing your readership of the very important Victorian era Homebush/Strathfield home ‘Verona’. I have been aware and interested in this house since childhood and find it incredible that it is not listed on the Strathfield LEP. It makes a mockery of Strathfield Council and its heritage preservation standards.

    You mention that the original owner was Andrew Johnston Arndell. Andrew was a very early student of Newington College who was enrolled at Newington House on the Parramatta River. In WWI the family still lived at Verona when their son Leslie Reading Arndell (a second generation Old Newingtonian) died on active service.

    When the house was sold to the builder Douglas James Gibbons in 1927 I suspect that the building was substantially altered from being Italianate in style to the present Mediterranean/Georgian Revival style seen to today. Before its remodelling it is likely to have looked very much like ‘Ethelstone’, built a little later and further down Meredith Street. Imagine how grand Homebush was when this suburban block was complimented by ‘Barangah’, later known as ‘Howglen’, the grandest of them all.

    You note that by 1951 the house was owned by Theo Richard Rossi, a company director. His wife, Mary Rossi OBE, was a pioneer of women’s television on the ABC before becoming a travel agency legend. In a recent biographical publication her eldest daughters are photographed as students of Miss Wyndham at Wadham and Verona is proudly shown as the family home.

    Long after Rossi ownership of Verona I believe that a DA was passed by Strathfield Council for the demolition of this handsome house. Thankfully that didn’t come to pass. One can only hope that this article will now help people to appreciate this building and save it for future generations. May be we will also find out who the original architect was a who was responsible for the 1920s alterations.

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    1. Theo Rossi was, I recall, the founder of Theo’s Liquor which was sold to Liquorland in 2002. He was also a one-time president of Kosciusko Alpine Club, which had many members from the Strathfield/Burwood area.

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  2. I always assumed Verona St., which runs off of Wallis Ave., was named after the town in Italy but it seems more likely that it was named after this house.

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    1. It’s a far distance from this house and it is not an uncommon house name. I’m not sure of the origins of the street name Verona Street, it may have been named by the subdivider. From memory, it was subdivided in the 1920s but most of the area was developed post WWII. If I find any more information, I’ll post it. Regards Cathy

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