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FEATURE PROPERTY: Glenelg’s grand Albert Hall

Michael and Lee Battye are selling their bluestone Victorian mansion so new custodians can move in and enjoy prime beachfront living at Glenelg.

Michal and Lee Battye say that encapsulated within the grand architecture of their Glenelg beachfront home there’s an intrinsic happiness that is hard to put into words.

“It feels as if the building itself has a soul of its own,” Lee says. “We feel like custodians because it’s such a unique and beautiful building.”

The couple has enjoyed every minute of their time living here over the past two years, whether it’s throwing a towel over the shoulder and strolling out the front gate for a dip on a hot summer’s day, or enjoying a gin and tonic on the balcony to watch the sunset over the Glenelg foreshore.

The building is in fact comprised of three magnificent homes, with Michael and Lee owning two of them.

They are selling the grandest home of the three, 1/16 South Esplanade, which incorporates most of the building’s beachfront facade.

The couple has lived in one of the homes since 2003 and purchased the beachfront property two years ago as it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Now, with more space than they need, they have decided to sell the beachfront home and continue to live in their original dwelling to the rear.

“We’ve had the great pleasure of living here and ultimately decided it was a good time to let it go,” Michael says.

Born in Naracoorte, Michael is a lawyer who trained in Australia but spent over a decade working in the UK and Asia.

Lee is originally from the UK and met Michael when they were both living in London. Today, she is CEO of Glenelg-based IVF clinic Flinders Fertility.

When the couple eyed a move from London to Adelaide in 2003, they first aspired to live in the Hills.

“We wanted to live in the Hills on a bit of land but when we discovered Albert Hall, it really captured us,” Michael says.

“We fell in love with it and I don’t think we could we could contemplate living anywhere else. It’s a brilliant place to live on such a great part of the Esplanade.”

Michael has an appreciation for the rarity of Albert Hall, having lived in major cities interstate and overseas.

“The sun sets over the water here and that’s quite unique in Australia for capital cities, so you just get the most amazing sunsets, particularly during summer,” he says.

“They’re extraordinary and captured beautifully from the balconies and front rooms; interstate visitors and friends certainly comment on how unique that is.

“In cities like Melbourne and Sydney you just can’t find properties like this unless you’re a billionaire.”

The architecture is described as a Victorian Italianate, adorned with myriad decorative features such as columns and plasterwork throughout. The decorative cornices are appointed with colourful and intricate paintwork that has lasted decades.

Albert Hall was built in 1877 for William Thomas, one of the original proprietors of the Adelaide Register. He came to Australia as a 15-year-old with his parents, who brought the first printing press to the colony.

“He suffered ill health towards the end of his life, and was apparently advised that the sea air would be good for him, so he had Albert Hall built,” Michael says.

The second owner of the house was William Pile, a horse racing enthusiast who owned Melbourne Cup winner The Assyrian.

When he purchased the house, William added The Ballroom (now a separate dwelling) and threw many parties.

The South Esplanade walkway was originally a road named Albert Terrace, from which Albert Hall gained its name. The road was pedestrianised in about the 1920s.

Michael and Lee have given the home a complete makeover to brighten the aesthetic and create a more contemporary feel.

They installed exterior blinds and built-in wardrobes in the downstairs bedrooms.

A courtyard on the lower level boasts wide archways that provide access to a recently refurbished spa room.

“It’s lightened the whole place up and we love to open the French doors and see and hear the sea and the birds – it just brings the home to life,” says Michael.

Despite its age, the home is equipped with modern amenities such as underfloor and hydronic heating, air conditioning and kitchen appliances.

Lee says passers-by often stop to take photographs of Albert Hall and visitors are always enthralled by the home.

“People never fail to be wowed when they walk in because it is so stunning and if it wasn’t stunning enough in itself, you’ve got those views of the sea,” says Lee.

At least in selling the home and keeping their rear apartment, Lee and Michael don’t have to say goodbye to the location.

“They’ll be carting us out of here in pine boxes, we’re not leaving,” says Michael.

The sale is being handled by Simon O’Donohue and Annie Need of Harcourts Packham Real Estate.

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