Larsen’s Cottages – 28-30 Montgomery St
1880 to 1890
These semi-detached cottages, known locally as Larsen’s Cottages, were built for Berghofer and constructed by Larsen. Nils (Peter) Larsen was the Norwegian born father of poet Henry Lawson and it is said that Henry Lawson himself did some of the painting.
They were built as an income-earning investment through leasing to visitors to the Mountains in the later nineteenth and early twentieth century is a significant representative example. The significance of the owner, however, is unusually high. Berghofer was a prominent entrepreneur and politician, well known in Kanimbla, Mount Victoria and Little Hartley, who left his mark through, in particular, the construction of Berghofer’s Pass to allow early cars a better route down the mountains to the west than Victoria Pass then offered. They are a pair of semi-detached cottages with intact Victorian features such as the original dormer windows and ogee form verandah. The semi-detached and terraced cottage form is unusual in the Blue Mountains and these cottages are a fine example of the type.
John William Berghofer (1840 – 1927) was born in the German state of Hesse and came to Australia in 1855 with his mother and younger siblings to join his father in the Sydney area. John William worked as a farm labourer and road overseer around Sydney. In 1867 he married a young German woman, Katherine Spring (1850 – 1945) and became a dedicated Anglican. He first encountered the Blue Mountains around 1870 when he left his family in Kogarah and went gold-seeking at Hill End and Gulgong. He returned to Kogarah but in 1875-6 he moved to Kanimbla Valley as manager of the old Norton sheep station recently acquired by Ebenezer Vickery, the industrialist and grazier. The Berghofer family lived there in the new homestead built by Berghofer himself in 1876. After thirteen years in Kanimbla, the Berghofers moved back to Kogarah in 1889, when Vickery leased the sheep-station, but in 1892 they returned to the Blue Mountains, buying the old Victoria Inn at the foot of Mitchell’s Pass , renaming it Rosenthal, later, because of anti-German sentiment, Rosedale.
Berghofer and his friend H.G. Rienitz (Rienits), a school-teacher, shared an enthusiasm for education and for the mountain climate. They both bought investment property in Mount Victoria around the same time in the 1880s and wished to capitalise on the growing tourist trade and its attendant services. Berghofer, like Rienets, built cottages for leasing in Montgomery Street.
At the same time Berghofer built a characteristic general store with living accommodation on the corner of Selsdon Street and the highway and this facility was leased to store-keepers, most notably John Wilson from at least 1912 to 1923 (MV Progress Association Directory 1912, 16; Country Trades Register 1923, 160).
The house known as Berghofer’s House is likely to have been leased to tenants for much of the sixty years that Berghofer and later his widow owned it. Berghofer’s primary residence after 1892 was Rosedale, except for the period 1898 to 1903 when he returned to Kanimbla homestead as Vickery’s manager. When Blaxland Shire (which included Rosedale but not Mount Victoria) was formed in 1906, Berghofer bacame its first President and became famous because of the building of Berghofer’s Pass in 1907-12. For the next two decades Berghofer’s Pass superseded Victoria Pass, until Victoria Pass was improved for motor transport in 1934.
Although Berghofer was a naturalised Australian citizen, he was obliged by war-time legislation to resign from his public office in Blaxland Shire Council in 1916 because he had been born in Germany, just as Rienitz was obliged to close his Mount Victoria school at the same time. Berghofer continued to live at Rosedale but retained close links with Mount Victoria. When he was presented to the future George VI and the present Queen Mother at Mount York in 1927, a journalist described him as ‘Father of Mount Victoria’ (Bergman 16): this is excessive, but it is a useful reminder that the complex of store and three houses which Berghofer built there were a significant stage in the village’s development.
Berghofer was buried in Mount Victoria cemetery in 1927. In the 1930s and up to 1941 Miss Hood and then Miss Pratley ran Rosedale as a boarding-house, so it is likely that the widowed Katherine Berghofer came to live in the Mount Victoria house until her death in 1945.
A pair of hipped roof semi-detached Victorian Georgian style cottages facing north to Montgomery Street with an ogee roofed verandah on the north side.
The cottages have a corrugated steel roof with dormer windows and a central rendered chimney with a rendered moulded corbel.
The verandah has stop chamfered columns, a boarded screen dividing the cottages and a boarded screen to the west end.
A 4 pane door is at the centre of each house with 2 over 2 pane double hung windows either side.
The cottages have a rear skillion wing
A brick outhouse with a corrugated steel vaulted roof is in the rear yard of each cottage
Modifications include a door opening formed in dividing verandah screen.
Rear skillion extended on east house, both skillions infilled.
Cast iron brackets and timber balustrade to verandah.
Windows in side walls.
Today: Larsen’s Cottages are currently changing hands. They will be changing from holiday accommodation to a private home.
Please respect the privacy of the occupants.
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