Moonah is a bustling working-class suburb five kilometres north of the Hobart CBD. It's an unlikely location for an old Tasmanian country mansion. But 170 years ago this was rural Tasmania, and it's where one of Hobart's most illustrious early entrepreneurs, Henry Hopkins, took his family for summer holidays.
The paddocks and bush that surrounded Summerhome in the 1830s have long since given way to industry and suburbia. But Summerhome has stood still while everything around has changed. Handpainted 1850s wallpaper from France still adorns the walls. Original furnishings are intact. And the Hopkins family have not left.
Hopkins came to Tasmania from Kent, England, for the promise of a better life. He amassed huge wealth as a particularly entrepreneurial merchant and was credited with the entire export of wool from the colony in 1822.
He also founded the Congregation Church in Tasmania and Victoria.
His Hobart residence, Westella, was built in 1835 on the instruction that it be the grandest home in all of Hobart, surpassing the Government House of the day. By all accounts the builders delivered, and it is now government offices.
Summerhome was a former boarding school for boys when Hopkins bought it for his summer residence in about 1840. A two-storey building of brick and stucco was added to the original stone cottage.
When Hopkins died in 1870, his son-in-law, the Reverend George Clarke, took on the property and it has been a home for four seasons to their descendants ever since.
The years are showing at Summerhome. Funds raised from opening the gardens for weddings and other functions will be put towards restoration works.
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