Press / Heritage fight for Kevin Borland 1970s house almost derails Glen Iris auction sale

Republished from Herald Sun

Samantha Landy / 21 Mar 2020

151 Finch St, Glen Iris, sold after an eventful auction.

Debate regarding a mid-century Glen Iris house‘s heritage status has almost derailed its auction.

The 1970s “architectural gem” at 151 Finch St passed in at $2.225 million, but sold soon after for an undisclosed price understood to be within the $2.3-$2.53 quoted range.

Gary Peer Caulfield North director Darren Krongold said the buyer from Melbourne’s east — who didn’t participate in the auction — may rent out Crossman House while they firmed up their plans for it.

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The house features an indoor tropical garden.

A bright yellow kitchen also features at the home.

The four-bedroom abode was designed by late architect Kevin Borland to feature an indoor tropical garden, floor-to-ceiling windows, high ceilings, a ramp walkway to the first floor and a yellow galley kitchen.

The house didn’t have heritage overlay when it went under the hammer. But the architect’s daughter, Kate Borland, told the 100-strong auction crowd she had applied to Heritage Victoria for the home’s protection.

“This house needs to be saved — it’s a modernist piece of architecture that’s significant in this country,” she said, to applause from some members of the crowd.

The house is in near-mint-condition from when it was built in the 1970s.

Its interior was characterised by floor-to-ceiling windows.

Another spectator then fired back, labelling Ms Borland’s statement “a load of rubbish”.

Auctioneer Phillip Kingston halted the verbal tussle that ensued by placing a $2.2 million vendor bid. One genuine bid followed, and the property then passed in.

Ms Borland told the Sunday Herald Sun after the auction she knew speaking up could upset people, including the beneficiaries of the deceased estate’s sale. But she wanted to “stand up” for the legacy of her father — a noted modernist architect who also built the nearby Harold Holt Memorial Swimming Centre in the ‘60s.

She said she wasn’t “given enough warning” to lodge an application for heritage overlay for Crossman House before the “mint-condition” property went to auction. But she’d now done so.

The property is a dream for many mid-century architect fans.

It also showcases a striking bathroom.

Felicity Watson of the National Trust of Australia’s Victorian branch said the organisation had recently classified Crossman House in its Register of Significant Places.

“This does not provide statutory protection, but recognises its architectural significance to the municipality,” she said.

Mr Kingston informed the auction crowd of the National Trust’s interest in the property.

He also stated that whoever bought it would be moving into a house that “for generations to come will be looked at as a work of art”.