‘Warringah Lodge’

No.6 Lodge Road, North Cremorne

The foreshores of Middle Harbour were barely developed in 1879 when Edward Augustus Macpherson built a two-storey 10-12 room stone retreat for himself and his family.

Edward, with his brother Joseph Warrie Macpherson after whom the northern Sydney suburb of Warriewood would later be named, had bought up much of the waterfront and land around the site of the house. As a result, the family name Macpherson was attached to one of the early streets of the area which ran along the boundary of their land.

Little is known about Macpherson. Edward’s choice of Italianate styling may have been influenced by a love of Italian landscape art. Certainly early photographs of the house, in its remote and wooded setting on Middle Harbour, evoke the 17th century art of Claude Lorraine and the Campagnia area of Italy. The most characteristic Italianate element of the house is the square tower with its bracketed eaves, arched window and balcony. Interestingly the stone is all heavily ‘rusticated’, or textured which is a characteristic more usually associated with Gothic design which itself was the house style favoured by those of Scottish ancestory. Italianate structures are typically rendered in keeping with the idea of Renaissance civility. Red terracotta tiles capped off the allusions to Italy. A boat harbour was built at the end of the garden in the early 1890s.

Like many other colonial home owners, Macpherson planted a Norfolk Island Pine in his garden which allowed easy identification among the grey green of the native flora, particularly from the water.

Macpherson’s choice of sandstone was almost certainly influenced by the local availability of that material. He secured the services of the mason Francis Samora and may have given the artisan land near the quarry. The Samora family were living at nearby ‘Pine Villa’ in the 1890s and their name, too, became immortalised as subsequent streets were laid down and Samora Avenue created by the 1940s. ‘Warringah Lodge’ itself had already influenced the nomenclature of local streets for Lodge Road appeared in the plan that accompanied the subdivision and sale the Macpherson land in 1919.

Macpherson’s residency at his Middle Harbour house beyond 1889 is uncertain. ‘Warringa Lodge’ was the address he claimed when petitioning for the secession of Mosman Ward from the newly created North Sydney Council in 1892. The petition was successful but Macpherson’s house remained within the North Sydney Council boundaries. Interestingly, despite Macpherson's claim of residency, Council records show that William Hale was the occupant of the house at that time.

The house was left vacant for two decades from the late 1890s or early 1900s. It was reputedly known locally as a haunted house. Empty and vulnerable in an isolated location, it was vandalised and damaged until sold in 1927. The garden had been subdivided in 1919 and a neighbouring dwelling built.

‘Warringah Lodge’ was an extraordinary landmark for many years in its dramatic and sparsely populated Middle Harbour setting. The desire for waterfront properties by the end of the 20th century, however, meant that other houses crowded around the site so that Macpherson’s old stone home became virtually invisible from the water.