Mosman’s abandoned “Morella” mansion is set to be transformed. See what’s planned.
By ANNA USHER
The crumbling Mosman mansion known as “Morella” is set for an $8 million transformation to return the controversial property to its former glory.
Developer Zobon Australia has submitted plans for a contemporary re-build with sweeping views over Sydney Harbour.
The multi-million-dollar project will also boast a gym, bar, rumpus room, swimming pool and huge, hotel-style bedrooms, including a Master Suite with a rooftop terrace.
Just a stone’s throw from Clifton Gardens, the once stately home has been derelict for decades and is a popular target for teenage vandals, who’ve smashed its interior and covered walls with graffiti.
In a report submitted to Council, Heritage Consultant Craig Burton and Jackson Teece Architects said their Development Proposal (DA) demonstrates “the best option for conservation, adaptation and interpretation, to creatively transform a ruin into a family residence again and gain respect within the Clifton Gardens and Mosman community.”
“The building’s current poor physical condition, including damage to the point of destabilising its structural safety and integrity … clearly compromise and limit Morella’s potential heritage values and role as a meaningful historical legacy.”
The 864 sqm parcel of land has had several owners, most notably Leo Parer, co-founder of Stanford X-Ray, who purchased 5 Morella Rd in 1936 for £500. With wife Helena, the couple commissioned Eric Nicholls of Burley Griffin to design the existing house completed in 1939.
In the 1940s, the mansion hosted the cream of Sydney society, and in 1943 the curvy modernist masterpiece featured in Australian Home Beautiful magazine.
After the Parer’s died (Leo in 1968 and Helena in 1989), Morella was passed down to son Anthony, who lived in the property with his carer, Chew Ho Hong, until he passed away without a will in 2015.
Ms Ho Hong made a successful claim as Anthony Parer’s defacto and promptly sold the home at auction to Edward Wei for $6.6 million in 2016. In 2018, Mr Wei had his first D.A knocked back by the Land and Environment Court.
This latest application is being assessed and is currently open for public feedback.
“The adaption of ‘Morella’ house and gardens as proposed will reinstate this significant house in this bushland harbour side setting of Clifton Garden, after almost 50 years of neglect,” the Jackson Teece Architects statement to Mosman Council reads.
“We propose that this detailed proposal (sic) is an exemplary outcome to bring back to life this neglected property and showcase the heritage significance of this local icon, and provide a wonderful home for a family.”