Your chance to explore Ipswich’s great private houses

A rare chance to explore some of Ipswich’s greatest private homes is just around the corner. Jane Pinder was given a sneak peek ahead of open day.

Magnificent private homes that we can only admire from the street are throwing open their doors to the public.

The popular Great Houses of Ipswich program by The National Trust has scored three iconic properties – Mona Lodge, Toronto and Parkside – for its next open day on September 9.

Each property had about 1600 people through the door at the last open home in May, and similar numbers are expected for the September event.

Since buying Mona Lodge in 2015, owners Ruth and John Wylie have poured countless hours of hard work into bringing the grand home back to life, bringing together a patchwork of historical elements to create something truly special.

One quirk they discovered is the original brick building from 1863 was designed as a duplex. As part of their extensive renovation the Wylies have taken out dividing walls to open up rooms, but a legacy of the design is a surplus of doors.

“It’s just lovely because they are beautiful old cedar,” Ms Wylie said.

There is hardly a corner of the home that has not been given attention by the Wylies, from raising the back garden to reach the home, to reconfiguring bathrooms and the kitchen to better use the home’s aspect.

Ms Wylie’s favourite part of the home is the 1934 extension, which they have made into a casual living area that opens onto a sunny patio.

The Wylies have also put their own stamp on the property using elements of Ipswich history.

“We found five sets of these wonderful doors that came from the old courthouse at the end of Meredith Lane,” Ms Wylie said.

She pointed to an old sticker still on one of the panes of glass. “Items of value have been marked for police identification,” she laughed. “Isn’t that gorgeous”.

5 things to look for At Mona Lodge

  • Garden tiles from Ipswich brickworks
  • Original brass bath tap and shower head
  • Doors from the old courthouse
  • A door with a particular transfer on the glass panes. Can you help the owners source that transfer?
  • Differences in floorboards marking where old walls divided the rooms

Great Houses of Ipswich open day

Mona Lodge,  88 Nicholas St Ipswich

Toronto, 30 Quarry St Ipswich

Parkside, 70 Thorn St Ipswich

Saturday September 9, 10am to 4pm. Free entry to National Trust members and students, $5 per person per property for other visitors.

Mona Lodge, picture by Emma Russell

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