Delgany is a luxury residential estate developed around the 1920s Desbrowe-Annear designed sandstone castle and set in 9 acres of park like gardens in Portsea.
There are 18 spacious residential apartments in the Delgany castle, 9 townhouses and 6 lifestyle houses spread throughout the grounds. The original sandstone garage has been converted into a fully equipped gymnasium with an adjacent outdoor heated pool.
All the residences in the complex are substantial with more than 250 square metres of living space, three or four bedrooms, and large outdoor entertaining areas. Reflecting the nature of the original castle structure, the individual dwellings are unique and full of character but with all the facilities you would expect in a modern luxury home.
The nine acres of gardens which are kept in pristine condition by a full time gardener, are punctuated with majestic moonahs and the traditional "Portsea" pines and provide residents a country estate ambience without any maintenance hassles.
In keeping with its position as a premium residential complex, Delgany also has a full time manager to ensure all common property is maintained to the highest standards.
The Delgany "castle" is a large limestone building with prominent castellated parapets and towers incorporating an eclectic mix of Gothic and Medieval elements.
It was designed by Harold Desbrowe Annear and built in 1925 as a large country house for Harold Armytage and his sisters (of Como fame) at a cost of 33,000 pounds. Desbrowe Annear saw the new residence which was constructed from Mount Gambier limestone, "as one that would be fitting for the magnificence of its position and would stand on the highest point - an eminence that overlooks both Port Phillip Bay and Bass Straits".
Harold Armytage intended Delgany to be the grandest of the country houses constructed at that time as rural retreats on the Mornington Peninsula by Melbourne's establishment families. An article from the March 1927 Australian Home Beautiful described Delgany in the words “And in due course there arose Castle Delgany on a point that Mr Armytage was fond of declaring the most favoured spot on the most beautiful peninsula in all Australia for a summer residence". Here to quote him, "the hot north winds of summer are tempered to coolness as they cross the bay. Within half an hour of sunset a southern breeze invariably appears and soothes all night to dawn. This is indeed a blessed spot".
Harold named the property Delgany after a small village in County Wicklow but sadly he died just after it was completed. Harold’s sisters lived at Delgany until the early 1940s.
During the Second World War, from 1942 to 1946, the house was used as the 62nd Australian Army Camp Hospital. In 1947 Delgany was sold to the Dominican Sisters who converted (and extended) the house for use as a deaf school with on-site dormitory facilities. The building was again sold in 1985, undergoing conversions to open in 1988 as a Peppers restaurant and luxury country retreat.
In 2006 a syndicate was formed to redevelop the country hotel into a housing and apartment complex with McGauran-Soon appointed as architects. This redevelopment was completed in 2008
Delgany is considered to be of historical and architectural significance to the State of Victoria and is heritage listed.
It is of architectural significance as an ambitious and unusual example of the later work of noted Victorian architect Harold Desbrowe Annear and is considered to be the most ambitious and spectacular of the ten or so Mornington Peninsula houses designed (or upgraded) by him.
Delgany is of historical significance for its association with the prominent Armytage family, and with Harold Armytage in particular. Although his ownership of the property was brief, Harold was the driving force behind the construction of the castle and its establishment as a large and distinctive seaside residence in an area noted for substantial rural retreats.
Delgany is also of historical significance as it demonstrates the importance of status to the Victorian wealthy establishment families in the first part of the 20th century. Delgany like other prominent holiday houses in the area was an expression of this status. While the house and grounds were grand, the garage which is a prominently placed and well designed building, would have also emphasised status strongly in the 1920s when car ownership was limited and generally to those with a higher income. Additionally the garage is an expression of the leisure lifestyle that the house provided and which car ownership would have assisted in accessing.
The other area of Delgany's historical significance is its role in the education and care of the physically handicapped in Victoria due to its association, from the 1940s to the 1980s, with the Dominican Sisters St Mary's School for the Deaf and Dumb. The latter was a major initiative of the Catholic Church at the time, and when it opened was the only Catholic boarding school for deaf children in Australia. The form that Delgany takes today is a result of major additions made during the Dominican Sisters' ownership.