A Brief History of Landcox House
Landcox House was established on this site by the Were family, who lived in the original seven room home between 1854 and 1862. Since then, Landcox has played an important role in Melbourne’s history.
For at least the last 10,000 years, family groups of indigenous people occupied the eastern shores of the shallow bay, now called Port Phillip. The Boonerwrung were the original owners of this area of wetlands, marshes and grassy woodlands, which were settled by the European squatter in the 1830's. Two arweet's or leading men, Bullourd and his father died in this vicinity in 1853 and 1847 respectively.
Henry Dendy purchased the land bounded by the coastline, North Road, South Road and East Boundary Road in 1841, intending to make his fortune by selling the land to new settlers.
To enable the sale he entered into a partnership with Jonathan Binns Were Esq. The Landcox farm estate was established by Were in around 1842, although he did not live there himself.
The farm of 78 acres was the site for the first estate house believed to have been built around 1854. Following the sale of the estate to the McMillan family, in 1863-4 a larger extended house was designed and built in the early 1870s under the direction of the noted Melbourne Architect, Charles Webb.
William McMillan arrived in 1840, with his parents and nine brothers and sisters as an assisted immigrant. The family had 10 shillings to their name but through hard work was able to buy land to the north of the Landcox estate in 1842.
The McMillans sold the mansion and 40 acres to Thomas Bent, MLA for Brighton in 1884. Thomas Bent had started as a poor market gardener in Moorabbin, and by hard work, and clever (and some might say sharp) speculation became a wealthy man and Premier of the State of Victoria (1904-1909).
Tommy Bent owned Landcox until1894 when he sold the property, comprising 27 acres, to Charles Myres Officer, the retiring MLA for Dundas in the Western District. Charles Officer lived at Landcox until his death in 1904.
Soon after his passing, the Officer family subdived the mansion and grounds and held a largely unsuccessful public auction in 1905.
Following local public consultations, three allotments to the south of the mansion, which also included the ornamental lake, were purchased by the City of Brighton for a public park, and the site of 10 acres was fenced and named Landcox Park in 1905.
In 1907, ownership of Landcox passed to Dr Robert Mailer, a Collins Street physician and the occupier was Mrs Emily Harcourt, Specialist.
Mailer sold the mansion and 10 acres to Dr Adolph Seelenmeyer during 1911. A local developer, Alex Younger then bought the mansion on seven acres from the Seelenmeyer Estate in 1923 and commenced a subdivision of the remaining grounds.
Mavis Avenue was constructed in 1924 and the mansion site was reduced to an allotment of about one and a quarter acres, at the address of 5 Mavis Avenue.
The mansion was purchased by Walter B. Cowburn and Miss Catherine G. Herkes in 1927 and was used as a private hospital until 1942. Following the death of Walter Cowburn in 1934 the house was renamed Cathburn Hall.
In 1942, the house was acquired by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Melbourne to serve as a home for girls with intellectual difficulties.
The Daughters of Charity, an order of nuns with a mission for the disadvantaged, ran a home and school there for the next 45 years. The mansion was renamed Marillac House in honour of the founder of the order, St Louise de Marillac.
Tara Institute, was established as a Tibetan Buddhist teaching and meditation centre, at the mansion in 1987, following a public auction.
Tara Institute is a Life Member of the Brighton Historical Society