Lugano was a destination familiar to many Mosman residents, being the home and surgery of Drs Sylvia and Geoffrey Mutton. They lived there from 1946 until its sale and demolition in 1969.
The house stood on the block facing Military Road between Gurrigal Street and Cowles Road, replaced by Kentucky Fried Chicken, then a car yard, now a block of units.
In 1897, widow Mrs Maria Rabone moved, with her children, into Telopea, Military Road (now the White House medical centre). Soon after, she was a significant beneficiary in the large estate of her brother John Thomas Neale following his death in 1897, investing much of her money in real estate, and building homes in Mosman, including Lugano, for at least some of her eight children.
Roslyn Chapman, nee Mutton, in recollections posted in 2010 on Mosman Library’s ‘Mosman Memories of Your Street’, relates that Lugano and another house (Lucerne), on either side of Cowles Road fronting Military Road opposite Telopea, were built for Mrs Rabone or two of her children.
Lugano, named after her brother John Thomas Neale’s home at Potts Point, was built on land on the Daintrey Estate, purchased by Mrs Rabone from Mrs Anne Wall. Lugano first appears in the 1901 census, the residence of Mrs Rabone’s son William Thomas Rabone, an accountant, who lived there with his wife Violet and growing family until about 1907. By 1908 W.T. Rabone had moved to Ryde and later to Ashfield. The house was then rented to J.G. Warden until 1912, when it was sold by Mrs Rabone to Dr T.W. Francis. From then on Lugano was continually owned or occupied by doctors, including Drs Francis, W. Creswell Howle, J. Hare Phipps, E.L. Newman and P.H. Speight, then finally by Drs Geoff and Sylvia Mutton and family.
Lugano was a two storey brick villa in Federation Free Style design, with a classical square tower which would have had views from the mountains to the sea. An auction advertisement for the property in the Sydney Morning Herald in March 1936 describes Lugano as a ‘substantial residence of brick on stone, slate roof, having verandas and balconies, about ten rooms and offices’. By then it also had a double garage of fibro and a cement tennis court. A demolisher in October 1969 advertised oregon flooring and skirting boards, cedar staircases, eight foot folding doors and 100 feet of cast iron, spear point fencing from ‘a mansion at 507 Military Road’.
Purchased by businessmen A.L. Poole and J.M. Brown in 1936, the final owner, Dr Geoff Mutton, briefly rented then bought Lugano from them in 1946. By this time the tennis court was on a separate title, eventually replaced by a block of red brick units, and part of the front garden had been resumed in 1936 for the eventual widening of Military Road. The Mutton family created a cricket pitch, later replaced by a putting green, on the western side of the property. A patient of Dr Mutton recalls that the surgery was entered by the pathway and porch on the left side of the first photograph below.
By the end of 1969 Lugano had been sold and demolished, to be replaced by a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet … another piece of Mosman’s history lost.
Roslyn Chapman nee Mutton, An Auspicious Intersection, 25 May 2010, Mosman Memories of your street, http://mosmanmemories.net/story/113/an-auspicious-intersection, accessed 18 August 2014.
KFC/For Sale – Mosman, NSW | Past Lives, http://pastlivesofthenearfuture.com/2012/05/01/kfcfor-sale-mosman-nsw/, accessed 18 August 2014.
NSW Land & Property Information, Title Certificate vol. 628, folio 52.
Sands Directories, various years.
Sydney Morning Herald and other newspapers, various issues from Trove.
‘Telopea’ vertical file in Mosman Library Local Studies Collection.
Wise’s NSW Post Office Commercial Directories. various years.
(Phillipa Morris, May 2015)
Mosman Historical Society
Benjamin Summers said:
I am after information regarding a house called ‘Lucerne’ , which was located on Cowles Road. Could you please help?
David Carment said:
I will pass your request on to Mosman Historical Society’s Research Officer.
Ann Blunt said:
Dr Geoff Mutton was my GP until he retired. I remember going to Lugano as a small child, and as an 11 year old in 1969 was sad to see the wonderful house go the way of so many wonderful houses in Mosman.
Dr John Mutton delivered me in 1958 (Dr Geoff was on holidays) he never let Mum or I forget that (in the nicest way).