Iconic mansion snapped up by Aussie John’s family
Amber Symond, the wife of legendary mortgage broker, Aussie John Symond has spent $12.5 million on a Potts Point heritage mansion.
The 1892 Challis Avenue trophy home has traded for over three decades as Simpsons of Potts Point, a 14-room boutique hotel.
The Symond family intend to restore it as a private residence.
"Killountan will now return to its previous use as a private residence," the vendor, Keith Wherry advised on its closure.
"We would like to take this opportunity to thank our thousands, yes many thousands of guests, who have stayed with us for the past, almost twenty years, and also those in the decade before we took over," Wherry said in a statement with partner, Marie Harland.
The hotel's name came from Peter Simpson, who previously owned and ran the hotel before selling it to Wherry for $2.85 million in 2002.
Simpson had paid $209,750 in 1987 and restored the property, which became heritage listed in 2000.
It was listed by Wherry in April 2018, with settlement taking place on Wednesday following its November exchange. Initially listed with $16 million hopes, there were revised expectations in February at between $12.7 million to $14 million.
Originally named Killountan, it was designed by leading architect John Bede Barlow for his cousins, the Lane-Mullins family at the end of the 19th century.
The Toohey's director, John Lane-Mullins, who was a longtime member of the NSW Legislative Council, was a father of five and a leader of Roman Catholic laity, including being treasurer of the St Mary's Cathedral Building Fund from the 1870s.
He was a notable patron of the arts, and foundation president of the Australian Ex Libris Society.
His family was from County Cork, Ireland, where the family home was also named Killountan.
The home, set between bustling Macleay and Victoria streets, is the only privately owned freestanding mansion of its era in the area.
There's precedent for the conversion back to residential, long touted by the listing agents, Ken Jacobs and William Manning at McGrath, including the nearby terrace that restaurateur Peter Doyle operated as Le Trianon, and then renamed Cicada in the mid-1990s.
It was reinstated as an 1890s terrace, Saraville.
Killountan was featured in Michael Cannon's Our Beautiful Homes: Australia's upper middle class in the Edwardian Age.
Barlow built houses for Sydney's new rich professionals, mostly Catholics, with big families.
His other 1892 architectural jewel is St Kevin's, Woollahra, designed for Dr Patrick Collins and his wife, Margaret, whose ageing daughters kept the home until 1976 when then adman Leo Schofield and his then wife, jeweller Anne, saved the home from its infirm state after paying $182,250.
Architect Peter Stronach, who helped restore the 1892 St Kevins for the Schofields, once noted the style of the 1890s house was Italianate, Victorian, wedding-cake style, with lots of wrought iron.
St Kevin's last sold for $2.2 million in 1994 when bought by Paul Keating when he was Prime Minister.
"No part of the house has been changed in concession to passing infatuations with fashionable configuration," Keating once advised.
Keating, who lives a few doors from Killountan, is likely to assist in fastidious renovation advice.
It was during the 1920s when the house known as Belgravia was split into six apartments. They were earning 320 pounds annually when offered for sale in 1944.
Then in the late 1980s, the Farris family undertook a year-long restoration. Without ostentation, its facade was a statement against the vulgarity of Victorian architecture of the day. There was red brick with stain glass windows and timber ornamentation.
Its now restored decorative elements were reserved for inside with missing mouldings replaced, elliptical Tudor arches highlighted, and a new internal staircase built, in the same style as the one that had been demolished decades earlier. A conservatory was erected and the garaging built underneath.
Originally published as Iconic mansion snapped up by Aussie John's family