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.
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.
‘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.
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.