Buda (house) facts for kids
The house (museum) and garden are open to the public Wednesday to Sunday.
Buda was built by a retired Baptist Missionary, Reverend James Smith, in 1861 and originally named Delhi Villa. The original design was a six-roomed brick house with an encircling verandah, based on the Indian Bungalow style. This was considered by Smith to be most suitable style of housing for the Australian climate. Within two years, Smith decided to return with his family to his missionary work in India and the house was put up for auction.
Ernest Leviny purchases Delhi Villa
The property was purchased in 1863 by successful businessman, Ernest Leviny. This became the marital home for Leviny and his second wife, Bertha Hudson, whom he married the following year and together they raised a family of ten children in the house. Leviny oversaw many changes and alterations to the house, particularly between the years 1890 – 1900. It was around this time that the house was renamed Buda after the capital of Hungary, Budapest.
The house we see today reflects Leviny's envisaged ‘gentleman’s villa’, a house befitting a successful Victorian businessman with its Italianate façade and surrounding 1.2 hectares of garden. Buda retains its “parsley” green trims and shutters, characteristic of the country homes of Ernest Leviny's European origins.
Buda and the Leviny daughters’ legacy
The Leviny family inhabited the house continuously for 118 years from 1863 to 1981 when the last surviving daughter, Hilda, died at the age of 98 years. After Ernest's death in 1905, the influence of the British Arts and Crafts style, embraced by his daughters, became more marked on the house interior. Evidence of this can be seen in interior fittings and colour schemes, handcrafted items, metalwork light fittings and embroidered soft furnishings, mostly made by the Leviny women to decorate their home. It was largely due to the foresight of last surviving sister, Hilda, that Buda was preserved as a house and garden museum when she sold the property to the Castlemaine Art Gallery in 1970. Her sisters, Mary and Kate, left a broader civic legacy through their involvement in establishing the Castlemaine Art Gallery in 1913, and assisting with the development of the gallery's fine collection of prints in the late 1920s.
This gold rush era home set on 3 acres of original established gardens has much to attract the keen gardener, as well as anyone wishing to step back in time and relax in the gentle surrounds of an historic country estate.
The Buda garden is one of the most significant large nineteenth century, early twentieth century gardens surviving in Victoria. It is significant for the compartmentalised nature of the layout, relative intactness and for the survival of two notable garden buildings, the aviary and the former tennis pavilion.
The nursery is open to the public every day.
The house is full of Ernest's and the daughters' artworks and light covers, one of the daughters even painted the cornice in one of the bedrooms.
Ernest Leviny was born at Georgenberg, Hungary, in 1818 and trained as a silversmith and jeweller in Budapest. Arriving at Port Phillip, Melbourne, early in 1853, he went directly to the rich alluvial goldfields of Forest Creek, and the bustling new township of Castlemaine. There, he established a successful watchmaking and jewellery business in the Market Square. By 1863, he was able to retire from business and purchase Delhi Villa. In 1864, he married Bertha Hudson, bringing her to Castlemaine to settle at Delhi Villa. Leviny was a clock maker, goldsmith and silversmith.
Ernest and Bertha had ten children between 1865 and 1883: four sons: Louis, Alfred, Ernest and Francis, and six daughters: Mary, Ilma, Beatrice (Kate), Gertrude, Bertha (Dorothy) and Hilda. Of their four sons, two died under the age of five years. The Leviny daughters were encouraged to pursue their artistic interests at a time when women were being given more opportunities to study art and take up careers. They worked across a range of media including painting, woodcarving, metalwork, needlework and photography.
Each of the daughters was creative in some form of art or craft.
- Mary, the eldest, had much to do in helping to run the household, and was a major contributor to making everyone's clothes, embroidering, smocking and decorating.
- Hilda specialised in embroidery.
- Gertrude specialised in woodcarving
- Kate specialised in photography
- Dorothy specialised in metal and enamel work
Buda (house) Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.