Sean St, Boondall is like many suburban streets but with one remarkable exception – an Italianate “palace” sitting among its brick and tile homes.
There’s no missing it, an ornately decorated palazzo,with a clock top and centre and Italian and Australian flags flying.
It’s the work of Francesco Fera who says it is not Italian at all, but a style all his own, as he created every bit of it.
And besides, he asks, how can it be Italian when the mould he used to create some of the ornamental scalloping came straight from an Australian kitchen – a Tupperware lid!
Frank was born in Southern Italy, came to Australia in 1977 and in 1996, decided to build himself a really beautiful house.
He allowed himself 35 years to complete the project, so he still has a few years up his sleeve to finish, but it has come a long way.
Frank learnt rendering, plastering and masonry as a teenager in Italy and developed his own style.
There is barely a space untouched on his house, with every window, door and wall embellished with twirls and swirls and images of his own and his wife Maria’s face.
In fact, there are portraits of Frank and his wife Maria, everywhere, in either photographs or ornamental moulding.
In one, Frank wears a crown: “That’s because I am king of this house. I made it all. Only me,” he explains.
Inside, he spent two years on the dining room, two years on the bedroom and two years and three months on the bathroom.
Ceilings and walls are brightly coloured and there is extravagant use of gold paint and ornamentation – barely an inch remains undecorated.
Despite its imposing size, the house has only three bedrooms and one (enormous) bathroom but high ceilings were important to Frank.
He had some chandeliers and they were too big to hang from just any ceiling so he made ceilings to show them in all their glory.
In 2008, Frank bought a 1936 Pontiac and it has now had the treatment too – a clock in the rear, gold embellishments all over, and photos of Frank and Maria.
The house is called “Little Jewel” and it shines in Sean St, not far from Sandgate Rd in Boondall. You can’t miss it.
And even though Frank insists it is all Australian, the only other place you may have photographed something vaguely like it, is in Italy. Drive by, as it has to be seen to be believed.
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