By Cathy Jones
‘Elaine’, 95-97 The Boulevarde Strathfield is located on the 1880 subdivision of the Woodgreen Estate, itself a subdivision of the 1867 Redmire Estate. Over its history, the house has had a number of names including ‘Baden House’, ‘Koonya’ and ‘Elaine’.
‘Baden House’ was built in 1894-1895. John Butterworth, a local builder, is recorded as the land owner in 1894 and it is likely he was responsible for the construction. Upon completion, the house was sold to Mrs A R Small but was leased at various times during Mrs Small’s ownership until ownership transferred to George Innes c.1912. The house was known known as ‘Elaine’, but during Innes’s ownership it was known as ‘Koonya’.
In 1924, businessman and timber merchant Ernest White OBE MC (Order of British Empire and Military Cross) became the owner and renamed the house ‘Baden House’. White was a prominent businessmen and managing director of the timber merchants R J White and Co, suppliers of timber for large constructions such as bridges, wharves etc and poles for electric light and power transmission. The Strathfield South shopping centre at the crossways of Homebush Road and Liverpool Road was locally known as ‘White’s Corner’, a reference to White’s timber yard and shops which were located there.
White had a number of interests including directorship of RS Lamb and Co Ltd, Shipping and General Merchants, the ‘Kalingo’ Steamship Company’ and Hotel Ettalong Ltd. He owned the racehorse ‘Winalot’ winner of Rosehill Guineas, 2nd in Derby and Craven Plate 1928 and winner of Warwick Farm Autumn Cup, St Leger and Sydney Cup and 3rd Kings Cup 1928, also owner of “Gamblers Gold” a well known sprinter.
White served with the 4th Battlion AIF in Egypt and France from 1915 to the end of the war, rising to rank of Captain. He was mentioned in despatches in 1917 and awarded the Military Cross in 1918 for his service in World War I. White was awarded an Order of British Empire in 1954 for co-founding the Australian-American Association in 1936. This objective of the Association was to form a close alliance between the British Commonwealth and the United States to promote cause of world peace.
Ernest Keith White stood for election as an independent candidate in the electorate of Warringah in the Federal election of May 1954. He obtained 19.2% of the vote. The successful candidate was Francis Bland, who later was also a resident of Strathfield.
By 1947, ‘Baden House’ transferred ownership to the Right. Reverend Fortescue Leo Ash, an Anglican Bishop, who lived at ‘Baden House’ until the time of his death in 1956. At the time of his death he was acting Rector of St. Anne’s Church, Strathfield, the church to which he was appointed in his first curacy as a young man. Ash served as Bishop of Rockhampton 1928 to 1946 and for six years served as Commissioner of the Centenary War Memorial Appeal raising over £100,000 and enlisting over 50 new missionaries for church work in New Guinea.
Following his death, ownership of the house transferred to Lowell Williams, a newsagent, and his wife Rae Williams, who renamed the house ‘Koonya’.
Department of Valuer-General, Valuation Lists, Municipality of Strathfield
Ernest White, 1929, Who’s Who in Australia
Fox & Associates, Strathfield Heritage Study, 1986
DEATH OF BISHOP ASH (1956, April 26). The Central Queensland Herald (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1930 – 1956), p. 17. Retrieved May 22, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article79263311
Sands Sydney and Suburban Directory
Strathfield Council Valuation Lists
Strathfield Council Building Register