Rio Vista historic house
Wander through the rooms of Rio Vista, an historic house overlooking the Murray River on the edge of Mildura city, and imagine life in the nineteenth century. Built in 1889 by W.B. Chaffey, in Queen Anne style, the house features original furniture and fittings.
Work is currently underway to restore the Rio Vista mansion to its original condition.
Rio Vista, which means ‘river view' in Spanish, was named because of its position overlooking the nearby Murray River. It is a grand construction made of bricks produced at the Chaffey brothers' plant, Murray pine and red gum as well as imported timbers. The layout included five bedrooms, a bathroom with marble bath, a drawing and breakfast room, a smoking room, a polished black wood staircase, jarrah floors and cedar doors, as well as a ballroom with a sprung timber floor for dancing in the basement.
The grand vision included a fountain in the front garden, a separate gardener's cottage and conservatory in the grounds, a carriage drive lined with orange trees, and a bird aviary on the verandah.
Returning the house to its original glory
The comprehensive restoration program that continues to transform Rio Vista has included replacing ornate timberwork on verandahs, reinstating original doorways and staircases, and returning the drawing room to its original décor with recreation Victorian wallpaper and original colour schemes.
Restoring the drawing room
Some notable features of this room included etched glass windows in all internal doors, designed to enable ventilation, marble fireplaces, a bay window, and timber window shutters used to keep the house cool in the hot summer months.
Nineteenth-century wallpapers, which were hidden under subsequent interior design efforts, have been recreated by photographing designs found on walls then having them redrawn and created by hand by specialist Sydney wallpaper artists KG Designs. The paintwork has also been returned to its original colour schemes - a rich combination of gold, pinks and greens reflective of the prosperous and vibrant vision the Chaffeys had for the settlement.
Rio Vista - recent history
In 1956 Rio Vista was purchased and transformed into an art gallery to house the permanent collection of the Mildura Regional Art gallery. Several rooms, including the conservatory, were renovated so that artworks could be displayed. This conversion probably saved the house from demolition and the grounds from subdivision.
Sir Henry Bolte opened the Mildura Regional Arts Centre on 22 November 1966. In 2006 the Mildura Regional Art Gallery celebrated 50 years since its inception and of exhibiting great art. Rio Vista is part of the Mildura Arts Centre.