Samuel Amess bought Churchill Island in 1872 when he was at the height of his career as a successful stonemason and builder. He had been appointed Mayor of Melbourne in 1869 and was responsible for some of the most significant building works in Melbourne during the prosperous years after the gold rush of the 1850s.
Amess bought Churchill Island as a summer retreat for his family after hearing about its abundant produce. During his time on the Island he built the substantial homestead “Amess House” and, as a member of the Victorian Acclimatisation Society, introduced rabbits, quails, and pheasants. He also established a fold of and West Highland cattle which, as a Scotsman, were to “maintain fond memories of the land of his birth”.
Samuel Amess brought the same energy and enthusiasm to Churchill Island as marked his career in Melbourne as a builder and Alderman. He grew onions, extended the orchard and grew many more trees including some which today are included on the National Trust Historic Trees Register such as the majestic Norfolk Pine outside the homestead, the Olive and Mulberry trees as well as all of the native Moonahs.
Churchill Island passed through two further generations of the Amess family, retained as a holiday farm and home to a retinue of farm managers and domestic servants who maintained the property for the pleasure of the squire. The island was eventually sold in 1929.
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