Labelled: "Etham Darling Point Sydney". Photograph is mounted on an album page, together with another photograph of Etham and with a photograph of "Mr H. Mort and family" and a photograph of "The old Ball Room Etham Darling Point" on the verso.
Etham, on Darling Point overlooking Double Bay, was a grand house built in 1869 for James Sutherland Mitchell (1819-1893), a partner in Tooth's Brewery. According to James Arthur Dowling, in an article on Potts' Point and Darling Point published in journal of the [Royal] Australian Historical Society in 1906 [vol.II part III pp.52-69], Mitchell demolished an old house called The Willows to build Etham but retained its natural pond, surrounded by willows, as a feature of the Etham garden which extended from Mount Adelaide to Carthona along the shore of Double Bay. Etham house was built on the edge of the slope fronting Double Bay.
Dowling records that "Mr Mitchell was a very handy and ingenious man, and a clever amateur carpenter, making many of the wooden fittings and carvings of the house". He also enlarged his original house, first with additional wings, then with a billiard room. The original ballroom, "enclosed with glass on both the north-east and south sides, which faced the whole frontage overlooking Double Bay" was also enlarged at a later date to nearly twice its original size. "To go to an entertainment at Etham", says Dowling, "was the ambition of all in the social world".
Mitchell's first wife was Elizabeth Carter Laidley (ca.1822-1868), second daughter of James Laidley (1786-1835) deputy-commissary-general, and sister of Maria Mort of Mount Adelaide. James and Elizabeth had two sons and 5 daughters, some of whom may be depicted in this photograph. Mitchell died in 1893, the property was sold and the estate subdivided in 1900. The lot containing the house Etham was bought by Sir Matthew Harris (1841-1917), an alderman on Sydney Municipal Council. Harris built up "a fine library with many rare Australiana books and was a notable collector of objets d'art, particularly Japanese." (ref: Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol.9, p.212).
The house was demolished in 1920.