The Samson House

In a "Morning Herald Supplement" of the 1st September 1905, the Samson House was portrayed as-
"One of the prettiest villa homes in Fremantle".
The house was built for Mary and Michael Samson in the year 1889, and was bequeathed to the Western Australian Museum by Sir Frederick Samson, Michael's son.

Architect, J.J. Talbot Hobbes (1864-1938) designed the house, and it was constructed in two phases: 1888-9 and 1899-1900. The first stage was constructed by John Hurst and Son, and cost around 1052 pounds, which included gates, fencing, front wall, a dresser, cupboard, plastering of the closet against the ash pit and varnishing of deep jarrah skirtings.

In 1889, the arrangement of the rooms was such that the central hall led from the front door to the back door (with a 20 metre deep well just outside). The house was also surrounded by a verandah. Frederick Samson loved dogs, and this was displayed in the collection of dog wall pictures in the entrance hall. He was also a keen photographer, and had his own darkroom in the cellar. Some of his photographs displayed in the house include a picture of the centenary re-enactment of the 1829 landing on Garden Island, and two portraits of Daphne Samson at the fireplace.

In 1899-1900, additions to the rear of the house included dining room, drawing room, italianate tower and bathroom. Beneath the extension there is a cellar with the steps leading down from the new back door. With the extension of the hall corridor, the well, with its hand operated pump was now inside the house.

After all the formal rooms were built, the earlier dining room became Mary's bedroom, and later on, Daphne Samson's bedroom. After Daphne's death, it became a sitting room. The tower, which looks very decorative on the outside, was never actually painted. The interior was embellished with coving and some plaster-work, such as central light fittings.

The bathroom was fitted with grey-white marble flooring and skirting, and aqua and glass wall tiles surmounted by a frieze of greek key patterned tiles. The original iron bath (with feet) still remains fitted with a mechanical plug.

   Bathroom of the Samson House

Kerosene lamps provided the lighting before electricity came into Fremantle in 1904. Fresh water from the well was used to water the rose garden, and a rainwater tank was built at the south-east angle of the verandah.

In the 1950's the north-east verandah was enclosed to form a movie theatrette for Sir Frederick, with seats from the old Fremantle trams, which closed down in 1952.

    The Tower                                             House Plan

Out Buildings

Early in 1898, Hurts (under Hobbs) constructed a limestone multipurpose laundry, with five separate rooms, including a toilet, laundry, man's room, workshop and carriage room.
Later that year, a stable was constructed at a cost of 239 pounds. In the same year, a two-roomed cottage with lean-to kitchen, bathroom and laundry was also built and rented out.

   Outbuildings of the Samson House

The Garden

In 1889 there were no signs of cultivation of formal lawns, and all that was left of the 19th Century garden was a pair of Norfolk Island pines on either side of the entrance.
A new garden was formed in the early 1820's, when Sir Frederick became a keen gardener, and began growing sweet peas, gladiols and dahlias in the north-east garden. Later on, a rose garden developed and Sir Frederick's interest in gardening led to him becoming a member of the Rose Society and foundation president of the Fremantle Horticultural Society.
In the late 1940's, Daphne Samson created a water garden, with a fountain and waterfall. Using photographs from the period, this garden is being restored.
The Western Australian Museum and the Building Management Authority have managed to restore the house and the Museum has catalogued, conserved and researched its collections. The BMA won the 1987 Architecture Design Award for their work.
Volunteers were recruited and trained to conduct guided tours of the Samson House, which was officially opened to the public on August 23rd, 1987.

 Daphne Samson by the water pond             The Samson House

Return to Sir Frederick Samson and Family.