Caulfield campus legends

The surprising history at the heart of
Caulfield campus

Monash Life | 2 minute read

As the Caulfield campus grew up (and up) around the house at 11 Princes Avenue, its owners, Trevor and Brian Wright, watched with interest. This is their story.

It had us hooked in Up, and we all got behind the Kerrigans in The Castle. Just like these two much-loved films about people who refuse to sell their homes for development, that’s how a lone house came to stand on Monash University’s Caulfield campus. Known as a holdout or nail house, it was the last remaining home on Princes Avenue.

Brothers Trevor and Brian Wright lived together in the Edwardian house for decades as the University expanded around them. In fact, as Monash University Project Manager Angus McGarvie says, the duo liked to watch the world go by, particularly Trevor. He could often be seen standing outside the home, taking in the passing action, including all the toolbox meetings during one car park upgrade.

He liked to be part of the activity and was always very friendly.” 

Despite having the ability to compulsorily acquire the property – and unlike the overbearing developers so often portrayed in fiction – the University co-existed with the brothers and respected their wishes to remain in the house. But when the pair moved into a retirement home in late 2012, the opportunity arose to make them a new offer. And so it was that Monash acquired the property, enabling the University to move on to the next stage of its development plan.

Today, the house may be gone, but a welcoming communal area sits in its place, complete with garden beds, a basketball and badminton court and tiered seating. An extensive courtyard renovation was included in the works, and a huge liquidambar tree is now a key feature, with timber decking wrapping around it. The project has opened up the campus, creating a dynamic outlook from surrounding buildings and an ideal space for everyone to enjoy.

It’s a fitting tribute to a house that meant so much to its occupants – and to the generations of Monash students who enjoyed its incongruity right in the middle of campus.

Student on campus wearing a 'Wish you were here' shirt

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