Altona Homestead was originally named Laverton Homestead when built in the mid 1840s by Alfred and Sarah Langhorne, the first homestead run built on the foreshore of Port Phillip. The homestead provides visitors of all ages the opportunity to step back to the time of early settlers in the region. Located in Logan Reserve in close proximity to Altona beach, it is a unique and treasured part of Altona’s heritage.
On display are items and collections that reflect everyday living from the early 1900’s. It is also home of the Altona Laverton Historical Society who are committed to collecting and preserving the history of the area, and passing that knowledge on to current generations through displays and access to community archive material. To learn more about some of the rooms within the homestead, follow the menu on the right hand side of this page.
Some of the homestead’s past uses include home to several families, used at one time by the company Cuming Smith to provide seaside holiday accommodation for its employees, council offices for the new Shire of Altona before building their offices in Civic Parade, and home to various community groups.
The latest restoration works commenced in 1988 through generous funding from Australian Bicentennial Authority and local council City of Altona. Now Hobsons Bay City Council, they continue to carefully plan and fund the preservation of this wonderful homestead for the community and visitors to enjoy well into the future.
Apart from experiencing a welcomed journey back in time, inspecting numerous themed displays and learning about our local history, you can enjoy delicious food and refreshments in the courtyard and kitchen on the first Sunday of the month from February to December, soaking up the ambience of our historic homestead.
If you would like to explore for any paranormal presence that may still be living in the homestead, Lantern Ghost Tours will be very happy to guide you through a thrilling evening of after-dark adventure.
History of the Homestead
- 1842 Alfred and Sarah Langhorne began to build up the Laverton Homestead run as their principal place of residence; first homestead run built on the foreshore of Port Phillip.
- 1851 Black Thursday, the first major bush fires listed for Victoria, barely affected Alfred’s property but it was enough for him to decide to rebuild the timber home in bluestone imported from Tasmania.
- 1857 Point Cook Homestead building started. Bluestone structure built 1850s.
- 1874 Homestead and remaining 2,546 acres sold to brothers Joseph James and John Lecky Phelps. At the height of his holding, Alfred owned 13,000 acres in the area. His property was advertised to include – a stone cottage, substantially built of bluestone, containing drawing room, dining room, six bedrooms, servants’ room, stone kitchen and storeroom, also outbuildings comprising stone overseer’s cottage of four rooms, wool shed, with screw press, substantial bluestone stable with loft, four stalls, loose box, and servant’s room, in addition to which there are piggeries, milking and drafting yard, fowl house, and garden. (The Australasion, 18 Jan 1873, p3)
- 1874-7 Werribee Park Mansion built.
- 1883 The property was sold and purchased by Joseph James Phelps (this was a sale forced by the Supreme Court)
- 1888 Property bought by Altona Bay Estate Co Ltd.,the plan to the right shows the property as it was surveyed by Nathaniel Munro in 1888.
- 1896 Property bought by Trust & Agency Co of Australia Ltd.
- 1903 Melbourne solicitor, William Henry Croker, bought the property, renovating the homestead extensively joining the separate wings into one building, establishing a new main entrance, adding bay windows and stucco work to the front, and the modern innovation of an internal bathroom.
- 1915 Property bought by Altona Beach Estates Ltd.
- 1920 Property bought by Footscray company Cuming Smith & Co Pty Ltd (Commonwealth Fertilisers) for use as a seaside holiday resort for their employees, installing trams in the park for sleeping accommodation and adapting the homestead to provide all kitchen and bathroom requirements. Meddings family lived in the homestead employed as caretakers.
- 1937 Property bought by Werribee Shire Council, leased to the Twentyman family. It is believed that an electrical upgrade was undertaken at this time.
- 1942 Some rooms were used as the local Air Raid Protection headquarters (WWII).
- 1957 Shire of Altona formed after seceding from Shire of Werribee when ownership of the homestead was transferred to the new municipality for use as offices until the new Civic Parade offices were opened in 1963. The outbuildings were also used as committee rooms.
- 1963-1988 Homestead housed a number of local organisations including the camera club, children’s dentist and the Altona Historical Society. In 1964 the outbuildings were demolished to make way for the Municipal Library on Queen Street.
- 1988 Homestead underwent major restoration funded by City of Altona and the Australian Bicentennial Authority.
- 1989 Restored homestead officially reopened to the public under care of the Altona Historical Society
Born into a London family of merchants and stockbrokers, Alfred longed to join his three older brothers in the new colony, arriving at Port Jackson in 1835 at the age of 17. He joined his brother Charles working on a rural NSW property learning the skills of a stockman.
When the property was sold about a year later, Alfred and Charles embarked on a career of overlanding cattle and sheep from NSW to both Melbourne and Adelaide. Langhorne Street, Dandenong and Langhorne Creek, SA are so named acknowledging their direct connection to the Langhorne brothers.
Alfred’s older brother, George, was appointed the first protectorate of Aborigines in Victoria on the now South Yarra Royal Botanic Garden’s site.
While in Adelaide on one of the drives Alfred met the young and beautiful Sarah August whom he married in 1841.
Four months later the newly weds set up house in Stephen Street (now Exhibition Street), Eastern Hill and Alfred opened an office in Bourke Street to become a flour merchant. In 1845 they moved permanently to Laverton Homestead, a pastoral property that would have been mostly self- sufficient.
Alfred continued to overland cattle, export sheep to Launceston, owned various properties around Melbourne, as well as property and wool stores in Williamstown.
Alfred was a member of the provisional committees who established the Bank of Victoria and formed the Melbourne and Williamstown Railway Company. He was a member of the Melbourne Cricket Club, the Victoria Industrial Society, and the Melbourne Club.
In 1854 Alfred and Sarah decided to liquidate much of their assets and return to London to educate their two children, Robert and Alice. It was not much later in England when 13 year old Alice succumbed to diphtheria.
In 1867 Alfred returned to Laverton Homestead finding it in a rather run down state in need of much repair. Sarah returned the following year bringing their daughter Alice with her. It was not unusual in those times when moving such vast distances were likely to be permanent, to take your deceased loved ones with you. Son Robert was left in England to complete his schooling.
Sarah passed away in 1871 from Parkinson’s Disease and she and her daughter are buried together in the Williamstown Cemetery.
Alfred remained at Laverton Homestead until 1874 when he decided to sell the property, taking up residency in a private hotel in St. Kilda until he died later that same year. He is buried in the pioneer’s section of Fawkner Cemetery.
Robert was aware of his father’s ill health and was on the ship to Australia when Alfred passed away. When Robert landed, he no longer had close family or property in Australia so he soon returned to England never to see Australia again, with his descendants eventually migrating to Canada where they still live today.