Stella James House, Avalon

The Stella James House (owned by the National Trust of Australia (NSW)) was designed in 1933 for Stella James as a weekender by the architect Walter Burley Griffin. It was constructed during 1934. The house consists of a large central square containing the Living area, the Kitchen and Bathroom. On the east and west sides of the central square are two smaller squares which contain the two original bedrooms of the house.

In 1957 a third bedroom, designed by Sydney Ancher, was added. By 1977 the house was suffering from severe termite damage and the entire roof of the house was replaced including the timber beams, the timber boards and the membrane roof. By the 1990s the house had again deteriorated due to the poor original detailing with regard to the drainage of the roof and the site and due to the subsidence of the house on the very steep slope.

Robertson & Hindmarsh were commissioned in 1992 to prepare a brief conservation management plan and then to undertake conservation and repair works. Part of the works undertaken entailed underpinning all the perimeter stone walls. The stone retaining wall supporting the grassed terrace to the north of the house was also partially reconstructed due to the failure of the footings in the centre of the wall. A new bituminous roof membrane was installed and new flashings were inserted into the stone walls. The stone walls of the house were also repointed in parts to reinstate their integrity. The Stella James House remains an excellent example of the house as both an enclosing cave sheltering the bedrooms and a temple open to the light, sun and bush (in the columned Living area) and its ownership and care by the National Trust ensures that this superb, fragile house will be able to be experienced by generations to come.