One of the finest outlooks in Charters Towers has to be that from the verandah of Tower Villa, nestled on the edge of Centenary Park.
The late Victorian 40 square home, with its gabled roof and wide cool verandahs, was typical style of the properties built on the goldfields before Federation.
The house was constructed between 1887 and 1888 for butcher Joe Harvey on the block which was initially purchased by Amelia Moore in 1884 for £17/6s/3p. Harvey owned one of the local slaughter houses, which was located where All Souls St Gabriels School is today. For many years
the park in front of the home was known as Harvey’s Reserve.
Harvey commissioned local builders Wyatt and Gates to do the work of building his family home. The home contains a small number of rooms, but each one is large, with high ceilings to keep things cool in the hot Northern climate. It features a pedimental entrance and prominent roof line, built of corrugated iron and with tin vents to help keep the home cool. All rooms open
onto the central hallway that provides passage from the front to the rear of the home.
It is believed that the home originally had a ballroom and service quarters attached, making the property almost double its current size, but both were lost many years ago. The property, however, remains largely unchanged from its original design, largely thanks to the succession of owners who appreciated the architecture and style of the property.
Harvey sold the property to Rebecca and David Lyall in 1898. The Lyall family owned Lyall’s Jeweller Shop in Mosman Street, which was regarded as one of the finest in the town. Lyall’s Jeweller Shop is today a fine example of architecture in its own right. Owned by the NationalTrust of Queensland, the property features curved glass display windows that are rarely seen.
The Lyall family lived in the home until 1914 when it was sold to Agnes Hegarty and four years later to Ellen Hudson. John West purchased the home in 1938 and it remained within the family right up until 1977 when it was bought by Ruth and Gabriel Hansen.
In 1980 Clyde and Christina Doxford too an interest in the home. The couple faithfully restored the old home, paying attention to the historical features. A number of gaslights were converted to electricity, pointing to a period in local history when some homes were connected to the Charters Towers gasworks. Inside the cedar building features were retained – doors, windows, architraves and skirtings, even a clock mounted high in the entrance of the hallway is surrounded by solid cedar.
Around the house is an extra corrugated iron awning, sometimes known as a ticky-tacky, which was attached to the existing verandah. And at the rear, the aviary has been converted into a greenhouse. A classic example of Northern Queensland tin and timber architecture, Tower Villa is now the home of Gary and Hilary Grant. It remains one of the most attractive intact villas of the historic gold town.