City of Fremantle

Place Number



37 John St North Fremantle

Location Details

Local Government




Construction Date

Constructed from 1903

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents
Heritage List YES 08 Mar 2007

Heritage Council Decisions and Deliberations

Type Status Date Documents
(no listings)

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management
Municipal Inventory Adopted 18 Sep 2000 Level 1B

Statement of Significance

Benningfield, House, 37 John Street, is a rendered brick and iron two storey house dating from the 1900s. It is a fine example of the Federation Filigree style of architecture. The place has aesthetic value for its fine design and detailing as well as its contribution to the streetscape and the surrounding area. Historically significant as a representation of a fine residence it is representative of the more affluent building stock located within the residential areas of North Fremantle. Fine example of the architectural style, also of the gracious homes built at the turn of the century. Built by Lewis Benningfield Bateman, Fremantle merchant.

Physical Description

House, 37 John Street, is a two storey rendered brick and iron house with asymmetrical facade designed as a fine example of the Federation Filigree style of architecture set in extensive grounds. Walls are rendered brick. Roof is hipped with a prominent front gable over the projecting wing. The projecting wing has a shallow bay which has a pair of timber sash windows on both floors. Ornamental sills and relief stucco banding articulate the facade. It is covered with corrugated iron. Two storey verandah is under a separate bullnose corrugated iron roof. The verandahs to both floors wrap the building on two sides. Verandah is supported by decorative turned timber posts with decorative iron filigree frieze and timber balustrade. Rendered chimneys with rendered details. Half-moon baffles on the chimney stacks, typical of Norman Hitchcock's work. All the windows of the building are paired timber sash windows. The shortened eaves of the roof are finished by guttering which rests upon decorative stucco moulding. Elaborately carved front door with stained glass sidelights and transom windows. There is a rendered masonry and iron fence to front boundary.


John Street was the main road surveyed through the parcel of land granted to Lt. Con. John Bruce in 1857. The land remained undivided and undeveloped until after John Bruce’s death, when his widow arranged for it to be auctioned as residential lots. A land sale was held in October 1890 to dispose of the estate of John Bruce. A large attendance resulted in all 88 lots being sold, for sums ranging from £21 to £102, at an average price of £33/16/0, well above the anticipated price. Towards the end of 1891, the new owners approached the Fremantle Council requesting that scrub be cleared so that they could access their blocks, and it is likely that this is when John Street, which had been marked on survey diagrams from at least 1833, was actually created. The area at this time was known as ‘Brucetown’. Pensioner Road, which ran from Stirling Highway (then Bruce Street) to the ocean and beach along the route of current Tydeman Road between Stirling Highway and the railway, and continuing beyond this point at the same angle, was renamed John Street in the late 1890s, being the continuation of the current John Street. This name remained until towards the end of the twentieth century, when roads were realigned to accommodate the expansion of Fremantle Port, and the current alignment of Tydeman Road was constructed. The present John Street, from Stirling Highway to the Swan River, developed as a predominantly residential area, with the exception of the Gresham Hotel (to 1934) and the North Fremantle Oval (later Gilbert Fraser Reserve). At the western end of the street a number of prominent homes were built, while the eastern end was characterised by workers cottages. Long residential blocks on the south side of the street, east of the oval, had a number of cottages built along their rear boundary, facing the water. These were reported to have flooded frequently. The street overall fell into disrepair in the decades following World War Two, with many of the larger residences used as boarding houses and the cottages rented out. Many German and Polish migrants took up residence in this period. From the 1980s, gentrification of the area began, with older places either being restored or demolished to construct higher density housing. In the 1990s, most of the older houses at the eastern end of the street were demolished to allow for new waterside developments, most notably Pier 21. Benningfield was constructed c.1903 for prominent Fremantle business identity Lewis Benningfield Bateman. Bateman was a proprietor of the Fremantle Merchant House bearing his name. He purchased the land in 1903 from Jane Cooke, widow of Henry John Cooke (farmer), who had owned the site from 1892. Cooke is recorded as living at the place from c.1896 in a two-room timber cottage. A 1913 plan shows the current two-storey house built to wrap around but not abut the earlier structure. It is not known when the earlier cottage was demolished. Rate books to 1935 continue to show a two-room timber cottage on site, occupied from at least 1921 to 1935 by Frank Hay. During Bateman’s occupation, the place is also remembered as having been called ‘Glenroy’. A 1939 plan shows outbuildings to the western Lot boundary behind the house, including a laundry, water closet, and brick structure. This was presumably the kitchen, as the two-storey brick residence had no internal kitchen until renovations in the 1970s. The timber cottage is not shown on the 1939 plan. Large lawn tennis courts are located to the south of the house, with a pavilion to their northern end. Lewis Bateman died in 1915, and for nearly twenty years the title was registered in the name of the Trustee Executer of his will. It appears to have been variously rented out during this period. During World War One, the place was used as an Orderly Room and Commanding Officer’s headquarters for the Anti Aircraft and Fortress Signal Unit, which relayed secret information to coastal gun batteries from 1941 to 1945. The spacious lounge room was reportedly used for dances. It may have been during this period that a Chinese market garden was reported to be operating from the rear of the block. In 1933, the property was transferred to Mary Elizabeth Murphy, who was already resident at the place. From her death in 1940 ownership changed reasonably frequently, until Cecil Bryon Parker (estate agent) and Gwendolyn Frances May Humphrey (married woman) took possession in 1962. The place was used as a boarding house in the 1960s, during which time it fell into disrepair. In 1974, it was purchased by Thomas Norman (‘Tom’) Peart (builder) and Geoffrey Russell Blethyn (sales manager). Over the next two to three years, Peart restored the house, fitting it out with an internal kitchen and bathrooms. In 1983, following a second restoration, it was sold as a four-bedroom two-bathroom home. It has subsequently been auctioned a number of times. Plans published prior to the place being auctioned in 1999 show a four-bedroom, three-bathroom two-storey residence. The ground floor has had a kitchen and family room added to the south western corner. Outbuildings remain as shown in the 1939 plan, labelled as stables. This place was included in the 'North Fremantle Heritage Study' (1994) as a place contributing to the development and heritage of North Fremantle. It was also included in the list of heritage places in the City of Fremantle identified by the Fremantle Society (1979/80) - PURPLE -of architectural and historic significance in its own right.


High degree of integrity (original intent clear, current use compatible, high long term sustainability, restored). High degree of authenticity with much original fabric remaining. (These statements based on street survey only).


Condition assessed as good (assessed from streetscape survey only).

Other Keywords

The Fremantle MHI management category for this place was amended and adopted by the decision of Council on 28/09/2011.

Place Type

Individual Building or Group


Epoch General Specific
Present Use RESIDENTIAL Two storey residence
Original Use RESIDENTIAL Two storey residence

Architectural Styles

Federation Filigree

Construction Materials

Type General Specific
Wall BRICK Rendered Brick
Roof METAL Corrugated Iron

Historic Themes

General Specific
DEMOGRAPHIC SETTLEMENT & MOBILITY Land allocation & subdivision
PEOPLE Famous & infamous people

Creation Date

20 Jul 2011

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

22 Mar 2019


This information is provided voluntarily as a public service. The information provided is made available in good faith and is derived from sources believed to be reliable and accurate. However, the information is provided solely on the basis that readers will be responsible for making their own assessment of the matters discussed herein and are advised to verify all relevant representations, statements and information.