‘Wynola’ (the White House) Chalmers Road

“Wynola” as appears in advertisement for sale 1925

by Cathy Jones

‘Wynola’ was the home of hardware merchant Leonard Keep and was located on Chalmers Road, on the western side between Barker Road and Newton Road.  It was later known as “The White House”.  The house was built c.1894 and was demolished c.2007.   The site was then subdivided into a number of residential building lots (15-17 Chalmers Road).

Keep (1858-1924) was the third son of  John Keep, of Broughton Hall, Leichhardt. John Keep was a cousin of  the British Keep Brothers Ltd.  He had his training in Birmingham and Leicester and then migrated to Australia.  John Keep founded the hardware firm of John Keep and Sons Ltd in 1853 on the south-westen corner of George and King Streets Sydney.  The business moved to Barrack Street (now the site of the former CBC Bank, which is on the State Heritage Register), then Clarence and King Streets.  The business was destroyed by fire in 1919 and was moved to Sussex Street. In 1893, the firm was made into a limited liability company and John Keep and his sons Leonard and Walter became directors.  John Keep died in 1905 and Walter Keep was appointed chairman.  Leonard Keep succeeded his brother as Chairman in 1922.

Keep was educated at King’s School, Macquarie Fields, and King’s School, Parramatta, and later on the Continent.  In 1876, he joined the firm of John Keep and Sons Ltd.  In 1922, following the death of his brother Walter Keep, he became the managing director.

“Wynola Estate” subdivision poster 1925

Leonard Keep was presídent of the Concord Golf Club.

Keep married Jessie Evans.  His three childre included  J. L. Keep (a later Director of the firm), Mrs. R. Scott, of Bombay. and Mrs. G. H. Wharton, of Queensland.

Keep died suddenly at ‘Wynola’ on 27 December 1924 at age 66 years and is buried in the Church of England Cemetery, Rookwood.

In 1927, the firm of John Keep was amalagamated with Holdsworth, Macpherson, and Company, Ltd.  The company of Keep Macpherson Ltd was delisted from the Sydney Stock Exchange in 1931.

Following Keep’s death in 1924, the grounds of ‘Wynola’ were subdivided into 16 residential lots facing facing Barker Road, Newton Road, Yarmouth Street (later Wallis Avenue) and Chalmers Road.  Though this substantially reduced the grounds of ‘Wynola’, the house was still situated on a large allotment measuring over 4000 square metres.  The subdivided lots together with the house and tennis court was auctioned as the ‘Wynola Estate’ in 1925.

The advertisement described the house as ‘brick residence on stone foundation with slate roof.  On the Ground Floor, the accommodation comprises:  Wide lounge hall and entrance hall with open fireplace, drawing room, dining and smoke rooms, billard room, ballroom (about 60″ x 25), retiring rooms and orchestra dais, butler’s pantry, larder, storeroom, built-in glass cupboards, large kitchen, laundry, fuel range, scullery, second kitchen, wood and coal house.

The ‘White House’ Chalmers Road 1986. Strathfield Council photograph.

‘Wynola’ was later known as the ‘White House’.    The original house was brick finished but at some stage, the house was rendered and painted white, hence the name the ‘White House’.

The ‘White House’ was identified in the 1986 Strathfield Heritage Study as a potential item of heritage significance, however the house was never heritage listed.

White House real estate ad 2001


Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 27 December 1924

‘Amalgamation. Hardware Companies. John Keep and Holdsworth Macpherson’, Sydney Morning Herald, 13 September 1927

(c) Cathy Jones 2011.  Pursuant to the provisions of the Copyright Act 1968, no permission is given to any person to reproduce any work.  Existing publications do not assign or imply any ownership by any other person by the author.  No permission is given by the author for any commercial advantage to any person or organisation.


  1. Cathy,
    Another good article. My memory of the alterations of ”Wynola” into ”The White House” are that they occured in 1977/78. The house had been the Sydney Bible Training Institute prior to that and up until the 1950s had been home to the Friend family. I’m not sure which family branch lived in it but they were connected to Walter Smale Friend who the gym at Kings is named after. Although the house was somewhat ramshackle in the 1960s it was a huge shame that it was mutilated by the Bullens. It would be interesting to see your article with some more post 1920s information added as the house was always a major landmark. Thanks again.


    1. Scott

      The alterations occurred in the late 1970s and you are right that it was once the Sydney Bible Institute. Some people found the house imposing and iconic after the renovations (the “white house”) but the house was badly altered and completely changed beyond recognition.



      1. My parents bought the house in 1977 after it had been totally renovated & modified by the previous owners, they also added the 2 swimming pools & island fish ponds etc. It was our family home for 25 years. House was demolished and land sub-divided by developers after it was sold in 2001.


      1. I never made any comment about the Bullens. The comment I made was that some people found the house imposing and grand, while others didn’t because the house had been substantially altered. The alterations to the house was the main reason it was never heritage listed.


  2. This house belonged to the Bullens .. I remember spending one of my Christmas Days here .. many years ago . fond memories .. It was a beautiful old house . Sad to hear it is gone .


  3. I know that the Bullens after closing their business kept at least one tiger on the premises in Strathfield, hidden behind 2 ferocious Doberman dogs which guarded the property. There is actually video footage I saw on a documentary of it.


  4. Wynola was a girls’ hostel for many years. I lived there from 1966 to 1970. It was run by the Baptist Church. Most girls were from the country and church affiliated. I never knew it ever was a Bible College. When girls were married they would hang their veils from the circular mezzanine balusters. It was just a great historic home with all original internal features.


    1. Beth, thanks for your comment. I am currently researching this house as it will be included in an exhibition at Strathfield Library in December. If you have any photos or recollections you would like to share, I would be interested in talking with you. Cathy


      1. I still have ‘contacts’ albeit distant, who boarded there with me, so I could gather some oral history [I am an historian myself and am eager to do something new in covid] but I think I only have an outside photo somewhere unfortunately. Are you interested in some written memories for the library or just photos?


      2. I have some photos but any others would appreciated. Information about the period you described would be great. I’m writing an outline of this house but have only basic info and nothing much on the late period. Will send you my outline when I have finished a draft.


  5. I will make my contacts [including the Baptist Historical Society] and get back to you. Wynola definitely wasn’t ‘the white house’ when we were there. No whitewash- certainly bricked.


  6. My nan was recorded in 1936 census as living at 17 Chalmers Street, Strathfield. Its states that she was doing home duties. I’m assuming she was a house cleaner/cook. Her name was Frances Ellen Linda Collins. Would there be any other records on her?


    1. 17 Chalmers Rd was ‘Wynola’ in 1936, owned by Marjorie Coggins. Frances Collins is listed in electoral roll as living at 17 Chalmers as home duties. Is home duties to he definition for cleaner etc, most women are either noted as home or domestic duties. I don’t know what other records there would be but this house is being researched currently for an exhibition at end of year, so some information may found


  7. I have just read this with interest. I lived at Wynola when it was a girls hostel – from 1970 – 1972 when it was sold. It was owned by a group of well-to-do Baptists named The Stewards Company or something like that. They provided low-cost accommodation for country girls who came to the city to study. I paid $13 a week board when I first arrived. This included all meals (you could even make your lunch). Bed linen was washed for you, all cleaning was done. It was a fabulous place for a lonely country girl. When it was sold the money was donated to Petersham Baptist Church which had a boys hostel (Morton House) and a large tennis court. A girls hostel was constructed on the tennis court which was named Flo Harris Lodge. When I first arrived there was an office in the corner at the front where the NSW Baptist Homes Trust (now Baptist Care) was located. I have photos and am happy to provide my memories,


    1. Jeanette. Wynola is being featured in an exhibition starting in December at Strathfield Library. I am currently working on the text and compiling photos for the exhibits, if you have any photos or recollections I would love to receive them. Email me with your contact details. Email Cathy.jones@optusnet.com.au. Regards, Cathy


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