Peek into the lives of an early Fremantle family at Samson House.
About Samson House
Samson House is located in Walyalup (Fremantle) on Whadjuk Noongar Country.
This impressive home was built in 1888 for Michael Samson, who, after a life of adventure – and often misadventure! – went on to become an active member of local Fremantle politics and, ultimately, Mayor of Fremantle from 1905 to 1907.
Samson House was inherited by Michael’s son Frederick ‘Fred’ Samson. Fred was elected to the Fremantle City Council in 1936 and became Mayor unopposed in 1951. He remained unchallenged in that office until he retired 21 years later in 1972. His enthusiasm for and dedication to the development of this port city led to him becoming known as ‘Mr Fremantle’ and also receiving a knighthood. Sir Fred was also an enthusiastic gardener with a passion for photography and film, which is evident when you visit the house.
Following the death of his wife Daphne in 1953, Fred considered giving up the role of Mayor because he felt that he needed a ‘Mayoress’. He invited his recently widowed sister, Rita, to perform this role. She did this tirelessly and was actively involved in various charities. Samson House still holds many traces of Rita – her drawings of her much-loved dogs are on the wall, and her piano and sheet music are in the drawing room.
Interested in peeking into the lives of this early Fremantle family? Book a tour of this iconic house to find out more about Fred, Rita and the rest of the Samson family. Open for guided tours on the first Sunday and third Wednesday of the month.
Michael Samson was the son of Lionel Samson, who arrived in Western Australia aboard the Calista in 1829 with his brother, William. This earlier generation of Samson brothers established a liquor import-export that continues today.
The young architect Michael commissioned to design Samson House, JJ Talbot Hobbs, also designed the Western Australian War Memorial in King’s Park.
Hobbs was later knighted in acknowledgement of his contributions to architecture and his designs are well-known landmarks, including this house, which is a rare and fine example of his early work in Western Australia.
After Fred Samson’s sister Rita died in 1982, Samson House, along with its considerable contents, was left to the people of Western Australia and it has been in the care of the National Trust since 2010.
Much-needed conservation works have begun on the 1890s timber stables building at Samson House, which will also providing a small space for community use.
A community information session was held in August 2020 and the development received approval in November 2020. View the project plan (PDF, 5MB)
Please direct any project queries to Caroline Stokes at 08 9321 6088 or email email@example.com. Building-related queries should be directed to the site manager, Robert Lee, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This project is supported by Lotterywest and the State Government of Western Australia.
Make your visit to Samson House part of a great day out in Fremantle. Steeped in heritage, the port city is renowned for its culture, cafés and galleries. As the entry point to Western Australia for generations of migrants, it has long celebrated the many cultures that contribute texture and taste to its community.
Stop in at the nearby Arts Centre to refuel at the café and view the current exhibitions. Or head into Walyalup Koort, the heart of Fremantle, to visit the library, see the Victorian-era Town Hall and stop in at the new play area. Carry on along High Street to the West End heritage area and visit the historic Round House, the oldest building still standing in Western Australia.
Learn more about the engineering achievements of CY O’Connor, architect of the Golden Pipeline with a visit to the Maritime Museum located by the harbour. Or find out more about WA’s treacherous coast at the Shipwreck Museum.
Plan your day at This is Fremantle.