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'Men may be foreigners but they are
men. They may be uncivilised but they
are yet men. They may be savages
but they still are men. One nation may
not oppress another. The natural rights
of man are universally the same ...."
Barzillai Quaife 1872
Barzillai Quaife Australia's first philosopher & Professor of Divinity, lived in Queen Street. He saw his son, Dr Frederick Harrison Quaife, build the gracious Hughenden, named after British Prime Minister's Disraeli's loved Buckingham country residence.
The Victorian Italianate Hughenden, with its wrought iron balconies, intricate stone masonry, servants' bells, black marble fireplaces, unique staircase, retains the craftsmanship of last century. Much of the original workmanship remains including Dr Frederick Harrison Quaife's initials, etched in Lombardic script in the glass above the entrance of The Hughenden. His photo & the silver platter awarded to him for his medical services are exhibited in The Hughenden.
Dr Frederick Harrison Quaife was himself, an important social and political figure in the colony as one of the founding fathers of the British Medical Association and later its President, who brought the first x-ray to the colony. He was also as a founding father of the British Astronomical Society in Australia.
After the Quaifes, The Hughenden commenced a chequered history - a Masonic Hall, a guest house, nurses' home, a dance hall, the Riviere College. Riviere College was a remarkable time in The Hughenden's history. Riviere College, established in Queen Street, by Professor and Mrs Goergs (circa 1877), moved to The Hughenden between 1912 and 1920. Its motto was Des Fleisses Lohn, Rewards of Work and Diligence, inspiring a generation of Australian women to pursue their brilliant careers. Some of these women include Dame Constance D'Arcy a pioneer obstetrician and gynecologist who fought relentlessly for maternal care and women's rights. Lillian de Lissa, a pioneer of early childhood education; Estelle Barnes, pioneer female dentist, Matilda Meares, pioneer graduate of Sydney University.
World War 11 marked another change for The Hughenden as its heritage became slowly lost becoming a lodging house for transients. By the 1990's The Hughenden had fallen into dispute and disrepair, half hidden behind a concrete fence. It was then that sisters, author Susanne Gervay and artist Elizabeth Gervay, discovered it. They fell in love with its decaying architecture, seeing beyond the concrete fence. With their father Zoltan's legacy, their mother Veronika's enthusiasm and the engineering expertise of their brother, Thomas, they embarked on the restoration of The Hughenden. Their vision was to re-establish the heritage of this gracious residence, establish literature and arts as a cultural focus and open The Hughenden to visitors and guests.
The Hughenden today is taking its rightful place at the gateway to the antiques and arts of Woollahra-Paddington, home to literary associations, it offers heritage accommodation, dining at Quaife's, art exhibitions, literary and arts events. The eclectic culture of Victoriana is part of The Hughenden experience with its welcome to pets, Sir Victor playing the baby grand in the sitting rooms, Australian children's book illustrations exhibited in The Reading Room, music evenings, civil function ceremony rooms, the cricket display cabinet, the family photo gallery of the Quaife's.
With Centennial Parklands (1888) as its backyard, birthplace of Australia's federation, located in the largest expanse of colonial Victorian architecture in Australia, The Hughenden has once again found an authentic life.