Recording the History of St Albans' Half Houses

Our streets and suburbs are changing. At Council’s Ordinary Meeting on 21 May 2019 it resolved to commission a study to record the history and appearance of the St Albans half-houses so that their local value can be understood, shared and appreciated.

What is a half-house?

The St Albans half-houses were built around 1947-1968. They were sold as temporary homes soon after the end of World War 2 when there was a serious housing shortage in Melbourne. For the people that came to St Albans during this time they were the most affordable option to buy a home.

St Albans was previously part of the former Cities of Keilor and Sunshine. These Councils allowed construction of the half-houses on the understanding that the rest of the house would be built later.

The St Albans half-houses usually have 2 or 3 rooms and many were constructed by their owners prior to services and roads being available. The half-houses were built using locally available materials and were usually bought by newly arrived European migrants.Some half-houses are still visible today, however, in most cases the half-house is now attached to the back of a new house and is used as a kitchen, laundry or bathroom.

Some half-houses have been relocated on the block, behind or next to a new house. In this situation the half-house may be used as a shed, bungalow or storage area.

  
Ribarow house Henry Street 1952

  
  Ribarow house Henry Street 1960's

Photo Credit: Copyright Joseph Ribarow
                                                                                                                                                              

Why are half-houses important?

The half-houses are a big part of the lives and memories of many post-war migrants and their children. They are an important part of the storey of St Albans and its diverse community. The half-houses show us the difficulties experienced by the first generation of post-war migrants in St Albans.

They are also important as a type of housing that was intended to be temporary in order to increase the supply of housing in the post-war period. The St Albans half-houses are unusual because there are now only a few known examples still in their original condition.

St Albans Half House Study

Council has produced the St Albans Half House Study to document the history and cultural significance of the half-houses of St Albans. View the St Albans Half House Study.

Council will also seek to arrange the photography and documenting of the St Albans Half Houses when it receives a demolition request.

Further information

Contact Council’s Strategic Planning Unit on strategicplanning@brimbank.vic.gov.au or 9249 4000.