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Open House Melbourne - Willsmere

  • Willsmere 8 Wiltshire Drive Kew, VIC, 3101 Australia (map)

Established in 1870, Willsmere is a rare and mostly intact 19th century former lunatic asylum, and an architectural marvel of Melbourne. Spread over 25 acres, sitting above Yarra Bend Park, and at one time forming the highest constructed point in Melbourne, the Italianate buildings were designed with the aim of portraying Melbourne as a civilised and benevolent city. The design included innovative 'ha-ha' walls that retained views without the feeling of being enclosed. In 1993 Willsmere was converted to private residences with the addition of townhouses, however it retains a heritage listing. The central administration block comprises a three-storey building with attic Mansard roof and cupola, with two double-storey wings extending to each side which include four-story Mansard roofed towers, and courtyards lined with iron columned verandas.