Hidden behind bluestone laneways, the property at 145A Pigdon Street is a secluded slice of Carlton North history.
Back in the 1870s, the 690-square-metre block featured a bakery with a set of horse stables at the rear, and it’s remained in one family since the vendor’s parents purchased it in 1985.
‘Over almost four decades it has been home for four generations of my family,’ the owner Dan says. ‘My parents wanted to leave the eastern suburbs where they had lived for twenty years and move to Carlton or Fitzroy.’
‘They came down the lane and peered through the big wire industrial gates and were smitten by the bakery, the stables and the incredible space between them.’
‘Local architects have talked to us about the history of the buildings, and I love to imagine the working horses, bustling baking kitchens making bread and cakes, carts lining up to deliver the flour from Kensington Mill.’
The block was ‘chaotic’ and dilapidated, but over the years Dan’s family converted the industrial buildings into the serene residence it is today — transforming the bakery into a four-bedroom house, and the stables into a three-bedroom abode. They added a lightwell into the bakery, complemented the exposed timber beams with parquetry flooring, elegant antique Spanish doors, and turned the ‘concrete yard’ into a series of romantic courtyards with a sprawling garden in the middle.
‘Mum was an artist and writer and her creativity permeates the whole place,’ Dan says. ‘The bakery and garden has hosted weddings, anniversaries, reading groups, writers’ workshops, political gatherings, painting classes, and sculpture making here.’
Dan was 17 when he and his dad redesigned the outdoor spaces together, planting trees, training grape vines to sprawl up the pergola, and establishing a calming Japanese-style garden in the lightwell. He grew up in the top storey of the converted bakery — which he ‘decorated like a New York style loft’ — and nine years ago, he and his partner moved into the stables so their two children could be close to their grandparents.
‘It’s a cliché but it truly is a unique place and it will be very hard to leave,’ Dan adds. ‘There is nowhere like it for the combination of location, heritage and the volume of the garden.’
But after nearly 40 years, it’s time for a new chapter!