Oldest home in West Melbourne captures the heart of US-based artist

Brendan Rees

A beautiful Victorian-era cottage believed to be the oldest home in West Melbourne has been captured in watercolour by an artist based some 15,000km away.

The heritage-listed home at 62 Capel St is 158 years old and recognised for its architectural significance as an early residence employing a juxtaposition of stone and render work.

Its current owner, Lawrence Angwin, a history enthusiast, has lived in the terrace house for the past 40 years.

So, when a sharp-eyed local historian and librarian told him that his home had recently been depicted in a painting and posted to social media, he was “pleasantly surprised”.

The artist, who lives in Louisiana in the United States, also showcased the painting named St Just – a nod to the home’s personalised name plate – on his website called “Matt Dawson”.   

When contacted by North West City News, Mr Dawson said he had no idea the home was one of the earliest forms of residential development in West Melbourne.

“I follow an account on Instagram called @housesofnorthandwestmelbourne and I really liked the feel of the house and decided to draw it,” he said.

“I follow other Australian accounts and have done the same thing.”

“I just liked how it looked and the stony colour of it. The brickwork and the foliage and vines on it. Beautiful building.”

When informed the home was believed to be the oldest standing in the area, he said, “I was not aware of this. I’m glad you told me this. I love history and putting history to my art makes it even more alive.”

Mr Dawson said he had never flown to Australia but “would love to go one day.”

“I get all my inspiration from photos online or on Instagram. Just like I do a lot of paintings of New York City, but I’ve never been there.”


I have done a couple of ones from Sydney and a toy shop in Melbourne. The closeness of the homes and buildings is very unique, and I like drawing them.


When this news was relayed to Mr Angwin, he was taken aback as he “just presumed it was a local artist.”

“I’m very pleasantly surprised and it’s very heartening to know that people appreciate the early architecture and some of the unique architecture of Melbourne that we have managed to save,” he said.

The house was originally built in 1864 and occupied by Thomas Noble, a carpenter, who also built many homes in the area.

Mr Angwin moved into the home in his early 20s after finishing fine art and education studies at university in 1981 before purchasing the property in 1990.

According to Mr Angwin, the home, which has National Trust classifications and Heritage Victoria registrations, was built in two stages with the bluestone ground floor of three rooms first, followed by an Italianate-style first floor in 1868.

Mr Angwin is a passionate community volunteer, having been the coordinator of the homework club for the past 20 years at The Centre, a neighbourhood house in North Melbourne.

He recently conducted historical walks of West Melbourne last month – one during a “come and try day” and the other during an “out and about day”.

The group of attendees included a new resident from Japan who enjoyed connecting with like-minded people, Mr Angwin said.

“It was a very social activity; we looked at the history and then we had a convivial lunch afterwards. It was a friendly introduction for people in the area in which they discovered very early architecture.”

Such is his love for history, Mr Angwin is in the middle of writing a paper about the residential history in West Melbourne for the Hotham History Project.

“I also look at the social history, not just the building. It’s about the people who lived here and what they did.” 

The next free “Out and About” day, which are held on the last Saturday of each month, is May 28 from 10am to 11am •

Lawrence Angwin outside his home in Capel St and right, a painting depicting the historic cottage.

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