An important but almost forgotten part of our area's history and that of Brisbane’s in general looks set to be demolished and replaced with townhouses.
Brisbane City Council recently granted planning permission for Everton House at 19 Dargie Street to be demolished and replaced with 20 townhouses and parking for 30 resident's cars despite local community objections.
The large property, now owned by classical guitar virtuoso Karin Schaup, was built by Sir Leon and Lady Peggy Trout more than 50 years ago and became a focus of the art scene in Brisbane and home to one of the best private art collections in Australia.
Leon Trout was born in Redhill in Brisbane in 1906 and became a solicitor and accountant and founded one of Brisbane's leading law firms at the time. He was a highly successful and community-minded person who took up many leadership roles in Brisbane businesses and community organisations.
His interest in art began at school when he bought his first print and he went on to become the founding president of the Queensland National Gallery Society and is credited with playing an important role in the relocation of the Art Gallery to its present location.
Sir Leon and Lady Peggy were particularly fond of the works of John Russell and Charles Conder with works by Russell filling one gallery in their home and those by Conder occupying three rooms. They were also avid collectors of works by artists from the Heidelberg School by such artists as Frederik McCubbin, Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton and of portraiture by William Dargie, William Dobell and many others.
Alert readers will have noticed that many of the artist's names are reflected in street names in the area which is due to the fact that the couple sold off parts of their property as the Trouts Estate development and named the streets after their favourites. They were determined to maintain the up-market nature of the area so the plots were sold under a covenant.
This stipulated that the houses built on the properties had to be of a minimum size, that they had to be brick and that no front fences would be permitted. To maintain the country club feel of the development, Sir Leon decreed that power would be provided via an underground cable which accounts for the clean uncluttered look of the area to this day.
During their lifetimes the couple made substantial donations to the Queensland Art Gallery but the balance of their collection was sold by Christie's auctioneers on June 6 & 7, 1989 after the death of Lady Peggy who had survived Sir Leon by 10 years.
An article in the Sunday Mail later that month recorded that the Queensland Art Gallery had spent $1.9-million at the sale buying items for its collection including a portrait of Sir Leon by William Dobell and one of Lady Peggy by William Dargie. Top price at the auction was $700,000 paid by another buyer for a John Russell picture.
And so ended an era in which the couple had made a major impact on Brisbane Society. Their home came to house, for a while at least, one of the finest art collections in Australia and was undoubtedly visited by the cream of Brisbane Society and visitors to the city.
The North West News reported earlier this year that the Trouts Estate Community Action Group has been campaigning to save limit the density of the development at the Everton House site to less than the 20 units approved for the site.
Mary Di Marco was responsible for much of the research that went into this article and she feels that, while one has to move with the times, it would be very sad to forget the contribution made by Sir Leon and Lady Peggy. After all, the results of their vision and enterprise can still be seen be seen all around us and parts of their art collection still grace our city's art gallery.
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