Graeme Hennessey, Doug Moran, Allan Coker, Daniel Mannix, Kerry Jones...more, Shane Moran, Bob Carr, Ken Jacobs, Greta Moran, Ron Pillinger, Carl Spies
Swifts mansion chatelaine Kerry Jones raises spectre of high-rise for Darling Point grounds: Title Tattle
Kerry Jones, the chatelaine of the castellated 56-room Darling Point mansion Swifts, has signalled she won’t succumb to the complaints of neighbours who want her to stop holding commercial and charity parties.
And she’s upped the ante, pointing out the 1.4-hectare grounds could accommodate about “eight high-rise home unit blocks”.
“We have tried to run it as a private home, with private parties occasionally, but it has caused this mass hysteria,” she says.
“It’s not working as a home.”
Council staff have recently collected evidence, including noise monitoring readings, photographs and videos of traffic accompanying social events at the Victorian Gothic home.
Lawyers have sought a written undertaking that no further events will be held without development consent, or Jones will face action in the Land and Environment Court.
“There is no doubt in our minds that events had been not of a scale that is not ordinarily associated with the use of a residential property,” Woollahra Council planning director Allan Coker told the Wentworth Courier. The articles was headlined "Jason Priestley party at Swifts the last straw for council."
It was 1994 when there was the last serious possibility of the grounds of Swifts being under redevelopment threat.
Its then mortgagee in possession, St George Bank, wanting to maximise its return on its $30 million exposure, considered townhouses being built along the historic estate's perimeter.
Swifts was built in 1880 for the Tooth brewing family, with the motto Perseverantia Palman Obtinebit (Perseverance Yields the Prize) cut into its facade. Its construction highlighted extraordinary self-made wealth. For most Sydney families, a cottage or terrace sufficed, but at Swifts the house took up 1,800 square metres, rivalling Government House in size and stature.
It was 1901 when Swifts was sold to the non-Catholic Resch family, who subsequently willed it to the Catholic Church in 1963 – when it was valued at £235,000 – with a 20-year ownership covenant.
Coincidently the Church took possession for use as the Archbishop's residence on the same day Archbishop Daniel Mannix died at Raheen, the stately Melbourne equivalent owned by the Pratt family. Cardinal Gilroy occupied Swifts until his death in 1977.
Periodically the chapel was used for weddings at the Archbishop's discretion – indeed Foreign Minister Bob Carr and wife Helena were married there in 1973. And presumably existing use rights have long lapsed for any conversion now into a wedding venue.
After the 20-year ownership covenant lapsed, the Catholic Church listed the property for sale in 1986.
To the frustration of others, property investor Carl Spies, who enjoyed low-key links with Catholic charities, bought Swifts for his parents in an off-market deal through the late Richardson and Wrench doyen Ron Pillinger.
The 1.4-hectare estate sold in pre-boom 1986 by the Catholic Church for $9 million to Spies, a reclusive property investor who enjoyed a Howard Hughes-like reputation and kept the grounds locked during his ownership.
With Spies holding Swifts as the jewel in his extensive property portfolio – and reputedly knocking back a $38 million offer – his financiers readily increased their financial gearing before the property boom burst in the early 1990s.
Swifts remained in Spies' possession until Easter 1992 - and rang Title Tattle on his emotion-wrenched departure - and was dormant until 1997 when Doug and Greta Moran bought the property for about $10 million through estate agents Graeme Hennessey and Ken Jacobs.
The Morans, who ran Moran Health Care, prided themselves with the desire to improve Australia's heritage as well as look after its health. Doug Moran was full of pride when he showed Title Tattle through the house afterb its extensive restoration.
In April 2011 two of the couple's children, Shane Moran and his family of four children moved into Swifts, taking up residence along with sister, Kerry Jones. Kerry Jones and Shane Moran have equal shares in Swifts, said to be worth more than $60 million on today's market.
Their father, Doug died last November.
The Mark at Sydney's Central Park
The best of everything at Portside Wharf
The Block's Dan and Dani - last spotted looking around the Melbourne suburb of Kingsville - merely tweeted their acquisition with little fanfare. But there certainly weren't any tweets from the international film star Toni Collette about her recent property journey.