19 March 2011

105 Arthurton Road, Northcote, VIC, Australia

This house has piqued my interest for a long time, ever since we started walking over to the Northcote Social Club around mid-2010. Most of the time, we had been walking past it at night, so although I noted it as being pretty run down and dingy, I didn't realise exactly how bad it was. And then the clocks went forward, and we actually got to see it in broad daylight. And oh my god, what a sight.
It's only held together by years of accumulated grime.

Creepy graffiti and massive holes in the wall.
What an absolute mess. You can tell that this used to be a very nice house. If someone had saved this place before it actually started to fall down, they could have probably done a hell of a lot with it. It's on a massive section, and the house itself could look stunning if you gave it a nice paint job and possibly replaced the roof. Instead, it was just left to fester, and it now appears to be losing all structural integrity. The latticework is missing in places, the support poles for the verandah are on a serious lean, the place is covered in graffiti and there are numerous holes all through the walls. I would say that I would have wanted to go in and explore, but I'm sure this place is actually occupied by squatters and other ne'er-do-wells. The graffiti across the front of the house, which is currently hidden by an old couch, reads "slum village". Very promising. In fact, I imagine the old couch was a luxurious bed for many drunken squatters occupying this place - it's certainly more comfortable than a bus stop, even if it is probably full of spiders. There's another piece of graffiti next to the front window which reads "sleep well". That one creeps me the fuck out. I may be curious, but I'm not quite THAT curious.

See police tape on the lawn.
However, it looks like I was very lucky to catch this place when I did - as you can see, when I went to get the photos for this post today, the house was surrounded by temporary fencing and security tape. This is a very recent development, so it looks as though this place has finally been condemned! However, things are still not as simple as they seem. Further inspection revealed that in addition to the red security tape, which I would expect to find around a condemned building, there was something more sinister. Blue and white police tape was up around the house too! Immediately, my excitable imagination began working overtime. What the hell happened here? Was there a clash between the squatters and the neighbours who had simply had enough? A clash between the squatters who couldn't work out who was getting the top bunk? Did someone actually come and try to paint the house or mow the lawn and the squatters protested? Christ knows.

Picture used in the official listing. I wouldn't look twice at it!
I thought that I might try and find out if any crime had actually been committed here. While I found nothing in that regard, my search revealed that this place had been on the market, advertised as a "buy it and knock it down" sort of deal. Here's the thing, though - the house looks perfectly presentable in the pictures on the estate agent's website. A look at Google street view reveals the same thing. It looks like someone must have bought the house, but has just left it to rot ever since. Still, I would have thought that for this house to fall into this level of utter disrepair, it would have had to have been abandoned for YEARS. Just look at it! The weatherboards are actually falling away from the house, leaving gaping holes in the walls. Ok, that might have been vandalism, but there are plenty of other examples. The window frames are falling out and decaying, the guttering is warped beyond belief and the roof looks as though it's about to slide away. Though if I was attached to this house, I'd slide away as quickly as I possibly could too. Seriously, the house in the listing may as well be a totally different house. Check out the compete absence of rust on the roof, the straight and upstanding verandah, the nicely mown lawn, the air conditioning unit. Nothing about that picture suggests that in just a few years, the house will be transformed into a slum worthy of Otara.

Come on in, it's so inviting.
I think that in writing this entry, I've raised even more questions about this house than I already had. Nothing adds up. How did this go from being a perfectly respectable lick o' paint to this woeful disaster in the space of just a few years? Why wasn't something done sooner? What on earth is the deal with the police tape? Alas, I don't know if I'll ever find the answers. Soon enough, I imagine this place will be gone for good, the squatters will move next door (an entry for another day), and a new set of shoebox apartments will go up in its place. These will just be bland and roofless rather than madly intriguing, but at least I'll get another blog entry about them. For the safety of the community, I guess it's a good thing that this place is getting knocked down. For my sense of adventure and intrigue, it's a very bad thing indeed! I hope I can at least get a better view through the windows before it disappears forever.

Rating: Condemnable (well, already condemned).


  1. I'd say the police tape was most likely resultant from a drug overdose, but then again, vagrants have little to lose. Perhaps there was sone kind of fight or a drug deal one wrong? Maybe a street walker and a bad customer?
    As for the rapid decline in the structural integrity, that might possibly be white ants and squatters working together? There is more than likely asbestos in that place, and funding repairs and even knock-downs on such places can run into the tens of thousands an that is before you even begin the cosmetic fixes. Financial trouble withe new owner may have saw the long delay which allowed the combined onslaught that finally brought this place to its current state. Oh, not to mention the pace at which council can move with planning. Add onto that, that it may be heritage listed and you've got enough red tape to tie it all up in until it just simply collapses on itself.

    Love the blog, btw guys.

  2. http://www.flickr.com/photos/yewenyi/2499624989/


  3. Is that a pet of some sort I see in the official listing photo?

  4. Anna - hmm, even more to think about there! So many of the places around here are heritage listed that I wouldn't be surprised at all. Didn't think about white ants/termites; that would explain a lot.

    As for that other place, we very nearly took a photo of it yesterday! Very interesting to see the old place that was there before. Good work! That road is full of eyesores, though there are some lovely ones lurking there too, like diamonds set in a turd.

    Alison - I thought that too! Maybe a little dog?

  5. Very interesting blog! I'm a local and really believe this house was left to 'die' so it can be condemned to make it easier for plans and permits to be approved. Last I heard it was being sold for $995k with plans and permits to build a couple? maybe 3 or 4 town houses (like 167 Arthurton Rd). My memory tells me the person who bought it paid around $600k then it appears it was left to 'die' and some time later reappeared up for sale at 995k with plans and permits to build.... Bill

  6. PS: I've entered the above info. as anonymous coz I couldn't be bothered signing up for 'another' internet account.

  7. Oh and it currently has been demolished leaving a vacant block. Bill