Historical information

Originally built in the 1850s by Charles Souter from earth excavated from his property. It was a forerunner for a building style that was later to be synonymous with Eltham.

The house is historically significant as the oldest mud brick building in the Shire of Nillumbik, as one of less than half a dozen buildings from the 1850s that survive in the Shire. It underwent several additions and alterations between c.1950s-1980s.

It is also significant for its associations with Mervyn Skipper from the well-known Eltham family who was one of the founders of the artist's colony at Montsalvat.

The house is architecturally significant because its north section was designed by the noted 'Eltham-style' architect, Alistair Knox, and the two long Oregon beams supporting the main floor were added by the noted 'Eltham-style' builder, Horrie Judd who built the southern room. A onetime tenant in the house, Judd built many Eltham houses and was a major builder of Montsalvat.

The 1934 flood destroyed the south wall and the house remained unoccupied for some time. Sonia Skipper, one of Montsalvat’s builders who also worked for Alistair Knox oversaw rebuilding it. She employed landscape designer Gordon Ford, artist Peter Glass and Tim Burstall.

The house originally had a cellar for making and storing wine, reputedly the first made in the district according to Alistair Knox in his book ‘We are what we stand on’ (p33). Water would seep into the cellar so Sonia’s father and then owner of the house, Mervyn Skipper bulldozed a channel outside to divert it.

The Brocksopp family purchased the house in 1950 and added an outside door to the cellar and converted it into a gallery.

Covered under Heritage Overlay, Nillumbik Planning Scheme.

Published: Nillumbik Now and Then /​ Marguerite Marshall 2008; photographs Alan King with Marguerite Marshall.; p51


This collection of almost 130 photos about places and people within the Shire of Nillumbik, an urban and rural municipality in Melbourne's north, contributes to an understanding of the history of the Shire. Published in 2008 immediately prior to the Black Saturday bushfires of February 7, 2009, it documents sites that were impacted, and in some cases destroyed by the fires. It includes photographs taken especially for the publication, creating a unique time capsule representing the Shire in the early 21st century. It remains the most recent comprehenesive publication devoted to the Shire's history connecting local residents to the past.

Physical description

Born digital image file