Ivanhoe is a residential suburb 9 km. north-east of Melbourne, south of Heidelberg. The land occupied by Ivanhoe was one of several portions adjoining the Warringal (later Heidelberg) village surveyed in 1837. Sales occurred the following year and, the Ivanhoe portion was considered to be of unusual fertility and landscape appeal. It had Darebin Creek on the west and the Yarra River on the south. By the 1850s there was an Ivanhoe village, a name derived form Sir William Scott’s novel, and used from 1853. A school was opened in the Anglican church.
During the 1850s smaller farms were taken up and by the next decade there were two hotels, market gardens, orchards, an elementary racecourse and “gentlemen’s villas”. A state primary school which replaced the one in the Anglican church, was opened in 1881. The Australian Handbook, 1904, described Ivanhoe as –
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Between 1910 and 1930 Ivanhoe underwent residential development. From being a pretty township with handsome villas, a church school, a golf links and a population of 2,013 in 1913, it had 5,016 persons in 1921 and 7,701 persons in 1933. The Victorian Municipal Directory described it as –
During the 1920s the Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School (1903) and the Boys’ Grammar School (1915) had growing enrollments. Another primary school in East Ivanhoe was opened in 1930. In 1937 the council offices of Heidelberg city were transferred from the old Heidelberg village to a new art deco civic centre in Upper Heidelberg Road, Ivanhoe. The move acknowledged that Ivanhoe’s shopping and commercial area was the more prominent of the two. Ivanhoe gained direct access to suburbs south of the Yarra River when the Burke Road Bridge was opened in 1926.
The areas of Ivanhoe which are distant from the railway station and shopping centre completed their residential development in the postwar years. Ivanhoe West, adjoining the Darebin Creek, has several Housing Commission dwellings and a small shopping area. The Bellfield primary school was opened in 1951. Ivanhoe East, adjoining the Yarra River, is famed for the Boulevard which overlooks the public golf course and Yarra Valley. Each Christmas residents decorate their houses and gardens and the display attracts many onlookers. There is an active strip shopping centre near the A.V. Jennings Beauview estate (1941). To the north is Eaglemont, which was developed during the prewar years, the attractions being its elevated position and proximity to a railway station.
Ivanhoe central has maintained its retailing dominance, with a combination of strip shopping and the Ivanhoe Plaza. There is a bowling club and tennis court near the shopping centre, and a croquet club, another bowling cub, tennis courts and ovals in parklands a little to the south nearer the river.
View of Ivanhoe from the clock tower of Heidelberg town hall in Ivanhoe, Heidelberg 1937