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History of Benga House

Designed by renowned architect Fredrick Ballantyne and built by Norman Taylor in the Tudor Revival style, Benga expresses the aspirations and developments in domestic housing during the inter-war period.

At the time of its construction, it was to be the largest and most expensive house built in the Shire of Dandenong for over a decade. Through it we can explore the social life of the well-to-do family who resided there for more than 50 years. Benga was:

  • 24 squares comprising seven rooms
  • Deliberately situated on the south-eastern corner of the site to maximise the northern aspect and to ensure that nothing would interfere with the garden's exposure to the winter sun
  • Built on an L-plan, with the lounge, dining rooms and the bedrooms situated in the northern/sunny side of the house and the service areas, including the maid's quarters, kitchen and bathroom positioned on the southern/cool side

Today, much of Benga serves as a community access gallery with beautiful, professional exhibition spaces available to artists to exhibit their works.

Benga also offers visitors an opportunity to explore life during the inter-war period through the intricate design of the house, period rooms and through access to Heritage Hill’s oral history collection.

The collection includes tapes and transcripts of more than 300 interviews with a cross-section of people from the City. These oral histories are available to researchers and anyone wishing to listen to the life stories of past and present residents. Access to the collection is via prior arrangement only.

Benga Maid's Quarters Refurbishment

In 2010, Heritage Hill was the proud recipient of a 'Victorian Heritage Grant' from the state government (Heritage Victoria). With the primary goal of building strong, active and resilient communities, these grants are designed to help community members feel a sense of identity, belonging and connection.

Heritage Hill was awarded this grant to re-interpret the original maid's quarters in Benga house (1936) and provide public access to these rooms through an audio tour, period display rooms and printed material.

The interactive interpretation includes period dressing of the Maid’s Quarters encompassing the kitchen, laundry, pantry and Maid’s bedroom with activities throughout. An audio tour and soundscape installation also allows visitors to listen to original recordings from Mrs. Dorothy Hart (owner of Benga house 1936-1987) and several of her maids as they describe life at Benga between 1940-1970.