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  • BAG History Group

Verco House

The Victorian era mansion at number 16 Coromandel Parade Blackwood is a State Heritage place. It was built by the Honourable John Carr in 1885, after he purchased the one acre property in 1882. He could be considered a founding father of Blackwood as he lobbied for the formation of Main Road through Coromandel Valley and was Chairman of the Hills Land Investment Company which was responsible for the subdivision of much of the land prior to the arrival of the railway in 1883. In his obituary in the Register in February 1913, Carr is quoted

Since I came to Australia, I have always contended that as agriculture is the first necessity and best support of a country, the settlement of farmers on the land and the construction of means of communication are of the greatest importance.

The son of a dairy farmer, John Carr was born in Yorkshire in 1819. He and his wife Anna arrived in South Australia in 1859. Carr initially worked as a merchant at Port Adelaide before taking up 200 acres of Government land at Dashwood Gully. He entered politics in 1865 and represented the Noarlunga constituency for 17 years and after a three-year break, re-entered the House as Member for Onkaparinga, retaining his seat until he retired from politics in 1888.

Carr was the Resident Justice in the Mitcham district from 1885, and was a local preacher at the Blackwood Methodist Church from 1870. He was a strong supporter of the Temperance Movement which flourished in Blackwood in the late 19th century with the building in 1879 of the Temperance Hotel next to the Carr residence.

Anna Carr died at Blackwood in March 1891 and the retired MP lived in the house until June 1895 when the property was sold to Sophia Roach, the wife of estate agent, Thomas Roach. They moved into the house with five small children between three and nine years of age making a family home of the imposing dwelling. The Roach family lived in the house for 12 years and sold it in 1907 to Thomas Magarey who lived there with his wife and five children. The Magarey's were the first connection of the house with the Verco family, Thomas’ mother being Elizabeth Verco.

Magarey sold the house in September 1914 to Claude Verco, son of his cousin Thomas Verco. The Vercos lived in the house nearly all their married lives, Claude’s wife Jessie for a further 11 years after the death of her husband in 1965. Their daughter, Alice Caldicott, acquired the property after her mother’s death in 1976. Alice died in 2012 and her son Peter is now the owner.

The Verco House, as it is known locally, is a two storey random coursed sandstone house with rendered quoins and surrounds. The hipped corrugated iron roof features rendered chimneys and decorative eaves brackets. The concave verandah and balcony have simple timber posts with lace frieze, brackets and balustrade. There is a bay window at the front and double hung sash windows, sidelights and a fanlight over the front door. The house has central hallways with eight main rooms and seven small service rooms. Twelve foot (3.65m) walls give the rooms a lofty, spacious appearance and the large kitchen features twin range alcoves with slate slab mantel shelf and outer hearth. An under-stair pantry is also accessed from the kitchen. Other interior features include the long staircase of low-rise steps leading to the bedrooms upstairs.

The stable at the rear is a simple gabled building, with a taller section at the centre with brick and corrugated iron walls.

The dwelling, which has been beautifully renovated in recent years, reflects the period when prominent ‘men of the city’ were choosing to reside within commuter distance from Adelaide in outer areas where families could receive the benefit of rural surroundings. With the opening of the railway, it was possible to have the best of both worlds with ease.


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