Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Stories from 14 MacMahon Street – Dr Crakanthorp’s home & practice

14 MacMahon Street, now known as Hurstville Museum & Gallery, was built in 1929 by Dr John Crakanthorp, as his family home and doctor’s practice. Together with his wife Valerie, two daughters Rosemary and Philippa and his dog Thrifty, he lived and worked in the house for over 30 years.

Courtesy of Philippa Williams.
At the front of the house on the right, as you enter the property was the Crakanthorp’s lounge room, with a cosy fireplace and double-doors which led out onto a side garden. The gardens were well known in the area and people would travel just to see the magnificent azaleas in bloom. Dr Crakanthorp's healing hands also had a green thumb, growing orchids in orchid houses he built on the property and selling them overseas.

Courtesy of the Crakanthorp family. 
The dining room led off the lounge room, featuring a sunroom and Valerie’s writing desk, where Philippa remembers her mother sitting on many occasions. Upstairs were the bedrooms and main bathrooms and a balcony which overlooked the side garden.

However these areas were never seen by the patients of Dr Crakanthorp. The surgery had its own separate side entrance which led into a small waiting room. In those days, doctors did everything – they delivered babies, fixed broken arms and removed infected tonsils. Several people recall having a tonsillectomy done by Dr Crakanthorp, however they didn’t always go according to plan. Pam Taylor remembers the doctor visiting her at home as she began haemorrhaging after the operation.

Some antique tonsillectomy equipment is on currently on display at the Museum & Gallery as part of the exhibition. It is truly scary stuff!

But one of the most harrowing things to happen to 14 MacMahon Street was a lightning strike. On 12 February 1949 the roof gable at the back of the house, above Philippa’s bedroom, was sheared off by a bolt of lightning. A newspaper article reporting the “violent thunderstorms” stated that “tiles were hurled from the roof” and Philippa remembers tiles littering the lawn of their neighbours yard and debris from the strike which had fallen onto her bed.
Courtesy of the Crakanthorp family. 
These are just some of the stories of 14 MacMahon Street. Come and visit the multisensory exhibition IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK to find out more about the building’s past.

Exhibition proudly sponsored by

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