Finding Family

One woman's obsession with family history.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of a booming city progress and change is inevitable. What may have once remained vacant for years is suddenly snapped up and then slowly transformed into a tall, reflective skyscraper.

Had there been an historical building standing on these spots and if it was facing demolition, I can assure you my soapbox would’ve been brought out in an instant. Knowing the space has been empty for so long however means that I instead welcome the change that the new building will bring to the area east of Perth.

At the moment 311 Hay Street is a sandpit on the brink of being transformed. Once upon a time however it was more than this; it was someone’s home. Though I embrace the future it is also a part of my nature to think of the past and pay tribute to what this bare piece of earth once was.

Carlton House

Carlton House in 1950 – Courtesy of the State Library of Western Australia

Carlton House (311 Hay Street) first makes an appearance on Trove in the early 1880s when it was lived in by the Burges Family. Following the death of Samuel Evans Burges in 1885 and his wife, Vittoria in 1891, it became occupied by his children and one in particular, his daughter Maria Margaret Burges. Devoted to The Church of England and of an extremely charitable nature, Maria and her sister held many fetes and fundraisers in the 1890s and 1900s with the aim of raising money for churches, the poor, orphaned children and any other funds or missions that were in need of financial assistance.

On 13 May 1928 Carlton House was advertised as being for sale by public auction in the Sunday Times. It was described as being a two story brick residence containing eight rooms, a basement, bathrooms, verandas and balconies at the back and front. It also comprised of detached rooms including a kitchen, three bedrooms, a laundry, coach house, stables and a man’s room. Deep sewerage and electric light were connected.

It was bought by Cecil Dent Ltd for £4,400 in early October of 1928 and advertising in Trove indicates that it became a lodging house. A variety of people came and went and called it home.


By 8 October 1949 is was once again up for sale by public auction and its use as flats/apartments was specified in the advertisement.


The reserve price was not met during the auction and after private negotiations it was sold to the WA State Council of the Ex-Naval Men’s Association of Australia for £6,000. The Association intended to use the building as its new headquarters and club building.

“We hope that eventually the building will be similar in many respects to Anzac House,” Mr. Bicker said. “It will have a memorial hall for meeting purposes, a club and possibly shops in front to provide revenue from rent. The property has spacious grounds, is close to the city and is well situated for the proposed building. It will be open to all ex naval men.”

It seems however that the Ex-Naval Men’s Association’s plans did not go accordingly. Two years later Carlton House was again up for sale.


Bidding initially started at £5,000 but gained momentum and it was sold for £7,250. Fourteen people attended the auction but who became the new owner was not specified.

After this last article the records on Trove come to an end. Who were the new owners? What did they do with the property? What were their hopes and plans for the future? What I do know for sure is that at some point between 1952 and 2012 an old East Perth residence was torn down and for at least three years (the length of time I’ve been in the area) it’s been nothing but a vacant patch of land.

It’s probably been many years since Carlton House once stood in this spot and the expectations for 311 Hay Street belong in the future. It’s sad knowing that once again my searching uncovered another historical building that was forever confined to photos but as I stood at my window watching what looked like a Buddhist monk blessing the land it made me realise that even though a building may be torn town and all trace of it eliminated, no one can ever really erase the past. It will always be there, in some form, somewhere. You just have to do a little digging.

311 Hay Street

A bare piece of earth in the middle – 311 Hay Street as it looks today.

Work has begun and in a few years 311 Hay Street will be transformed into a new apartment building:


2 thoughts on “Carlton House – 311 Hay Street

  1. Barratt Family says:

    have you seen the st georges house i used to work there lovely old building

    1. Jess says:

      Just googled it – it does look like a wonderful building! 🙂

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