ONE of the district’s grandest homes will go to auction in October and hopefully the new owner will continue the much needed restoration work and return the mansion to its former glory.
Minimbah homestead at Whittingham is a 45 room or 3000 square metre mansion, a home that covers one acre of its seven acre block.
Designed by colonial architect Benjamin Backhouse, the home was built between 1875-1877 for early Hunter Valley settler Duncan Forbes Mackay on land issued in 1823 to John Cobb.
The Mackay family also owned the Anambah homestead near Maitland and the Melbee and Cangon properties at Dungog.
Legend has it that Minimbah was built after the Mackays were not invited to a party at nearby Baroona owned by the Dangar family.
The Mackays were determined to make their mark and embarked on building Minimbah. It overlooked Baroona and was designed to be a much more imposing home.
When it was built it is beloved to have cost the Mackays 60,000 pounds (estimated at $30 million in today’s money) and consisted of a two storey house with walls made from cement rendered standstone and sandstock bricks.
The entrance hall has a tessellated floor and beaten copper paneling with a staircase of Australian red cedar and rosewood carved in Germany.
Cedar joinery is found throughout the home and is in very good order as is the stain glass windows and other ornate features including the columns and arches.
Recent owners have included BP Geologist Frank Rickman.
He sold the property in the mid 1990s for $1million to Bill and Bliss Ryan who operated hotels in Sydney and owned a vineyard at Broke.
The Ryans carried out a great deal of restoration work at the homestead and planted a vineyard on the surrounding farmland.
They sold the mansion and farm in 2007 to businessman Anthony Gee who had plans to turn the homestead into a retirement home for wealthy women.
This project fell through and subsequently most of the farmland was sold off leaving the home today located on seven acres now surrounded by rural zoned land.
Agents LJ Hooker, Singleton spokesman Michael Cruikshanks said the home while in good structural order did need work on the roof and second storey verandah.