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Jack and Edith Higham's house

Altona, 29 [formerly 57] Fothergill [formerly John] Street, 1902

The second large residence to be built in the historic precinct (the present no. 29 Fothergill Street) was built on vacant land at Lot 1 of 796, at the south corner of John Street and Swanbourne Street, which had been owned by John Bateman, merchant, of Fremantle, before being transferred to his daughter, Edith Elizabeth Higham, wife of J. J. Higham, in 1901-02. In this year, a large two storey 'villa residence' was built for her. Constructed of limestone and brick, with an iron roof, in the Federation Filigree style, the place was in a commanding position, on a large block of land. The ground level of the residence is some depth below the street levels of both Fothergill and Swanbourne Streets, suggesting that the limestone may have been quarried on site, or alternatively that quarrying had taken place there at an earlier date.
John Joseph (Jack) Higham (b. Fremantle, 1856, d. 1927), after his education in Perth and Sydney, returned to Fremantle and entered the family mercantile business, at that period styled M. Higham & Sons. Mary Higham and her husband, John, had commenced business in Fremantle as bakers and confectioners after their arrival there in 1853; and, after his death in 1856, it was continued and expanded by her into a highly successful mercantile business. In 1882, Jack Higham married Edith Bateman. As noted in Brown (1996), marriages within the second generation of the successful Fremantle merchant families were common, and 'often reinforced commercial bonds and created commercial family networks.' In 1886, the alliance between the Bateman and Higham families was further consolidated when Jack's brother, Henry, married Edith's sister, Maud.
Jack Higham carried on the business as the surviving partner until 1890, when he opened his own business at Pakenham Street, servicing the newly discovered gold fields. Subsequently, he moved into business in house, land, and general estate agency and valuing business 'on a large scale.', in which he was later joined by his son, Frank Gayton Higham (b. Fremantle, 1886). J. J. Higham was active in public life, representing the business ward of the Municipality of Fremantle for seven years; from 1897, following the death of W. E. Marmion, he represented Fremantle in State Parliament; and he served also as Chairman of the Technical School Advisory Board, and Trustee of the Fremantle Cemetery Board. He became a Justice of the Peace in 1897.
On completion of the 'villa residence' Edith and Jack Higham took up residence, with their family of four sons and a daughter. In 1905-06, the place was recorded as 57 John Street, and in addition to the villa residence, outhouses were recorded. In 1907-08, the Rate Book recorded also stables and a cottage at the place.
A Sewerage plan (1908) shows the large lot with the main residence of stone construction fronting John Street, near the corner of Swanbourne Street. Steps lead down to the place from John Street, and the house has timber verandahs at the west side and the front (facing north), with a return to the east side; a timber section extends across the rear; and extending from the south-west end, there are a brick addition and closet, with a further timber addition to the rear again. The outbuildings comprise four timber buildings, located to the southeast and south of the main building, in proximity to the eastern and the southern boundaries of the lot, and include the stables. At this period, Bellevue Street was re-named Higham Street and later reverted to Bellevue Street, its present name.
The Higham family continued to reside at the place through the first decades of the twentieth century. In the 1940s, the place was occupied into flats, one at each floor.

References and Links

Heritage Council, Fothergill St Precinct, online, from which the above is taken.

Brown, Patricia M 1996, The Merchant Princes of Fremantle: The Rise and Decline of a Colonial Elite 1870-1900, UWAP.

Garry Gillard | New: 6 February, 2016 | Now: 31 March, 2024