Bundalohn Mansion was built as a private residence by notable banker and historian, Henry Gyles Turner (1831-1920). He used the residence as his private house where he lived with his wife, until his death in 1920.
Bundalohn Mansion was architecturally significant for it’s time using techniques and styles that would become popular in the 1890s and beyond. The unique elements include the front facing tower, red face brick works with contrasting window heads, elaborate balustrades and chimney and fluted architraves.
In July 1904, Turner and Bundalohn Mansion were featured in the popular Melbourne Punch publication. The article archived by the National Library, gives a view of the internal fixtures and fittings of the mansion.
In the 1920s, following Turner’s death, the property was purchased by the owners of a neighbouring property who did not plan to occupy the site but wanted to retain the view across the front garden of Bundalohn Mansion.
The Mansion was converted into a boarding house with shared bedrooms and bathroom facilities in the late 1920s in line with the demands of the time and the approach of the depression era. In the 1930s an additional apartment building was added to the rear of the mansion. The rear building, Darwalla, was also used as a rooming house during the depression era.
In the 1950s the site, now consisting of Bundalohn and Darwalla had an additional building, a motel block built in front of the mansion. The apartment block was built to accomondate the high influx of visitors to Melbourne during the 1956 Olympic Games. The new building, and subsequently the whole site was run as a private motel and became known as City Gate Travel Flats.
By the late 50s and early 60s the rooms within Darwalla and Bundalohn were converted into self-contained apartments, with their own kitchens and bathrooms. They were often used for short-term leases and high-density housing
In the 1970s the motel building was converted to 32 self-contained motel style bedsit rooms, now all 49 apartments were self-contained with only laundry facilities being shared. For the next 40+ years City Gate operated as budget accommodation for a range of tenants including backpackers, immigrant workers, students, nurses and IT professionals.
Following the financial downturns of the late 2000s the accommodation was used to support local housing services including Launch Housing, who included a focus on short-term crisis housing.
Over the course of the late 2010s it became untenable to continue to run City Gate privately, even with the housing support services and the process of advertising the site for sale began.
Knowing the importance of budget/affordable accommodation in the inner-city area the decision was made to keep the property within the affordable housing demographic and the entire site was purchased by HousingFirst in 2017. HousingFirst continued to run the site with support from Launch Housing until early 2019 when the site was vacated ready for redevelopment.
Once all residents were rehoused, the 1950s motel building and the extensions to Bundalohn Mansion were demolished in preparation for its redevelopment. The new development, renamed St Kilda Apartments will house vulnerable mums and kids and deliver unique specialist health support services.
Victorian Housing Minister, the Hon. Richard Wynne joined our partners to launch the construction phase of development. The St Kilda Apartments project will see the transformation of these 3 buildings into 50 architect-designed, secure and affordable homes for mothers and children.
HousingFirst will manage the residential housing. Completion date is expected January, 2021.