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Patterson Cottages – major philanthropic fillip

June 25, 2019

Daniel Harvey Patterson’s will, which dedicated money to build nine cottages in Rushall Park in 1993, is the most substantial donation to elderly Victorians that the Association has enjoyed. Together with the donation by John Hunter Patterson, his brother, to build two cottages in 1925, the Patterson Brothers’ philanthropy was both quiet and important.

The brothers were well-known graziers and mining investors, and sons to pastoralist John Patterson and his wife Martha. They were privately educated in Melbourne until 1854 when the family visited Scotland. John completed his schooling in Edinburgh, later returning to Melbourne in December 1859to study medicine at the University of Melbourne. Persistent ill health forced him to abandon his studies. Daniel, or Harvey as he was better known, was tutored in history and music, and later in surveying and book-keeping.

At the age of 21, both brothers began their lives as pastoralists, buying land in New South Wales. By 1875 they were acquiring large leaseholds: John bought Gol Gol near Balranald and Topar near Broken Hill; while Harvey acquired Menamurtree station at Wilcannia and Corona near Broken Hill. The brothers had ready access to finance from Dalgety, Blackwood and Co.

A decade later, and Harvey moved into mining, initially with Broken Hill Proprietary Co (BHP), persuading his more cautious brother John to join him. Later and the brothers travelled through the Western Australian goldfields, investing in scores of mines; they made some spectacular profits, but most of their investments were entrepreneurial and risky, with comparatively small returns.

Harvey returned to England in 1926, where he died in 1931, survived by a son and two daughters of his first marriage and his wife Athel Eleanor Sharp.

John spent much of the time touring his stations. He owed his success in surviving prolonged periods of drought and depression to the diversification of his non-pastoral interests and his avoidance of freehold tenure. Following a serious buggy accident at Gol Gol (near Mungo National Park) in September 1905 he began selling his properties and investing in bonds and city businesses. Survived by his wife, son and daughter, he died at Hawthorn in 1930, and was buried in Melbourne general cemetery.

The nine cottages bequeathed by Harvey Patterson were designed by Oakley and Parkes leading inter-war architects, who were responsible for several heritage- listed CBD buildings – the first modernist buildings in Melbourne. They were also chosen to design The Lodge in Canberra, and designed the first housing for public servants in what is now the Forrest Estate.

John endowed two cottages, still standing and occupied in Fripp Avenue, Rushall Park, in memory of his parents, John Hunter Snr and his wife Martha.

Caption: John pictured in of the Mungo Wool Shed.

"There is nothing I would change that would make my life any better. I have two loving sons and family and I thank God every day that OCAV took me in when I had nothing," said Jill Dale, Braeside Park resident.

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