Bert helps out with the decorating but …..

Trove reproduction quality is poor here, so I have reproduced what appears to be a fairly innocuous story in Wednesday’s April 11 1900, Page 2 of the Bendigo Advertiser.


For the past four months ‘Claremont’, Queen-street, the residence of Mr. S. White, has been in the hands of the decorator and they have successfully carried out an exceptionally fine piece of work. The drawing-room is carried out in Louis XIV style, in terms of blue and green. The ceiling ornamented with cupids and flowers.The freeze is of apple-blossom, while four panels of the four seasons over the walls. The dining-room is in rich shade of terracotta and green, with figure and landscape work on the walls. The hall is undoubtedly a fine piece of work. The ceiling is richly panelled, and the frescos consists of adapted vine and grapes. It is entirely hand painted. The walls are shaded from dark olive green to pale sea foam. The dado is formed of chrysanthemums of all colors and shades and is indeed charming. Gold leaf has a prominent place in enriching all and has been freely used. The door, panels are studies in themselves, almost every kind of flower lending their beauty throughout the hall. The front bedroom is beautifully decorated in pink and pale green with flower and scroll ornament, while the frieze is remarkably effective consisting of lilac and swallows. The second bedroom is in fawn and pale blue, and the ceiling is unique as is also the landscape frieze. The work, which has given Mr. White great satisfaction, has been carried out by Messrs. Coulter and Smith, of Mitchell street, who have indeed set a high standard for future work’.


Now those decorations to Mr Solomon White’s house all sound very lovely, however on the following day Thursday April 12, two strident letters to the editor of the Bendigo Advertiser are published. And yes, Solomon White is the father of Hyman White who has married Bert Levy’s sister-in-law, Victoria.

The Advertiser responds to the criticism above, claiming the information came from the house owner, Mr S White.
Whatever, the dispute was between Bert and his brother-in-law’s father, strangely the Bendigo Advertiser thought they might correct matters 8 years later when Solomon White dies in Melbourne in 1908.
It’s unfortunately again a poor quality Trove image… but here’s the transcript below. I wonder if Bert living in the United States in July 1908 ever saw it ?

‘News was received yesterday from Melbourne that Mr. Solomon White, who was well known in Bendigo by reason of the fact that for many years he conducted business in this city as a furniture dealer, died at his residence, “Claremont,” Canterbury road, St. Kilda, yesterday morning at the age of 67 years. Mr White leaves a widow and one son, Mr. Hyman White. The deceased gentleman was a Polish Jew, and when he arrived in Bendigo he could not speak a word of English, but by the exigencies of business, he educated himself, and he soon commanded a lucrative business in High-street. He was always held in high regard as a citizen and a businessman. He was a lover of the artistic, and the interior of his residence,”Claremont,” Queen-street, was beautifully decorated by Mr. Bert. Levy, an artist formerly associated with the “Bendigonian” staff. After amassing considerable wealth he retired from business about 15 years ago and removed to Melbourne several years back.’

Postscript – I made contact with the Bendigo Regional Archives Centre to enquire whether they were able to tell me the actual number of ‘Claremont’ in Queen Street. BENDIGO REGIONAL ARCHIVES CENTRE

I received this prompt response on Claremont – ‘It appears this property was located at 107 Queen Street (Crown Allotment 8 Section 52C) and was demolished or converted into flats pre-1965. The current Bendigo Twin Cinemas stands where Claremont was located’.

My thanks for this excellence assistance to BRAC Archives Officer -Desiree Pettit-Keating.

Initially dismayed that another beautiful home such as Claremont could be demolished or converted to flats and then later become a Cinema. Desiree from BRAC did point out the wonderful irony ‘that given Bert’s successful career on stage and in film the space was now occupied by a movie theatre’.

After some further exchanges, Desiree was even able to provide the 1934 Auction notice from their microfilm sources – ‘Lo and behold’ Bert’s artistic efforts in 1900 are even acknowledged in the auction notice. Obviously Bert’s art work was still a key feature 34 years later and look at the scale of the house !

the marked up transcript reads… ‘all the rooms are lofty, and most of them have been ARTISTICALLY PAINTED TO REPRESENT THE SEASONS by Bert Levy a Celebrated Artist at the time this residence was built’

Postscript – Bert Levy died in the July of 1934, 5 months before this auction.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: