Kihilla
Kihilla Lawson

The exact date that Kihilla was built is difficult to establish. It stands on Portion 6 in the Parish of Woodford, and one can trace the early ownership from the time in 1877 when the land, comprising 50 acres, was selected by Cornelius Donohoe under the NSW Volunteer Force Regulation Act of 1867, transferring it to William Hamnett Pinhey 1 April 1878.

On 29 May 1878 Robert FitzStubbs became the owner.

It is interesting to note that when part of the land (on the western side of Queens Road) was transferred to Benjamin William Roberts (19 July 1882) Fitzstubbs reserved the right for the period of one year (to 1 June 1883) to quarry and remove from part of the land sold such stone as he should require for the purpose only of building any house or houses on the remainder of Portion 6.

In 1888 one acre of the original grant was transferred to Mary Isham Garran wife of the Honourable Andrew Garran MLA of Glebe Point.

In 1889 a further acre was transferred to Mrs Garran.

On 23 April 1890 James Sutherland Mitchell became the owner of Kihilla and it was during his ownership that the west wing, stables and coach-house were added.

Following the deaths of Mr and Mrs Mitchell part of the land just over 3 acres) was transferred to T.H. Richards, the remainder going to Marion Dawbarn in 1906.

John and Annie Sulman purchased the property "Kihilla" in 1913.

In the fourteen years prior to sailing to Australia in 1885, John Sulman had designed more than ninety churches in England. The decision to settle in Australia was on account of his wife's health. Mrs. Sulman with son Arthur and daughters Florence and Edith arrived in 1886. The family settled at Parramatta where Mrs. Sulman died in 1888.

In 1898 John Sulman married Annie E. Masefield, a relative of John Masefield who later became Poet Laureate. John and Annie Sulman had four children. The architectural firm of Sulman and Power designed many prominent buildings, including many churches, one of which.Christ Church of England, Springwood; Armidale Boys School, also the Girls College at the above were built from their designs.

In the 1890's John Sulman was a lecturer at Sydney University. He was the first President of the Town Planning Association, being Chairman 1921 to 1924, was also a member of the Federal Capital Planning Committee. He was a Trustee of the National Art Gallery for thirty years, being President from 1917 until 1934. He was probably best known for establishing the fund to award the Sulman Architecture and Art Prizes each year.

 While residents of Lawson, both John and Annie Sulman took an active part in many of the local organisations. John Sulman was always available to give advice and often designs, for any worthy projects.

Sir John died in 1934, but "Kihilla" remained in the Sulman family until 1953, being leased mainly as a guest house. The next owner was Mrs. Elsie McPhee, who later sold it to the present owners, the trustees who administer it as a Christian Convention Centre