In early 1961 two ambitious young men, Brian Pettit and Ron Sevitt, emerged from administration roles at the floundering Sun-Line Homes to form what is arguably to this day one of the most influential, well respected and successful project home companies in Australia.
Pettit+Sevitt would be the company’s moniker, its original brief simple, to oversee completion of as many houses that Sun-Line had taken deposits for as possible and then using the profits garnered they would set up display homes in their target market of Sydney’s Northern suburbs, where new land releases were abundant.
Commissioning the talents of a young Ken Woolley and Michael Dysart, whom at the time were both working for the State Government. Based on a design the pair had exhibited for the Lend Lease “Parade of Homes” on the Kingsdene estate in Carlingford, the first Pettit+Sevitt Split Level was built in Richard Road, St Ives.
By 1963 the success of the Split Level was enough to finance an exhibition centre on Pennant Hills Road at Carlingford. This comprised of an updated version of the Split Level and a new design: The Lowline. Public response to these two houses was such that the company was able to embark on construction of the much larger centre in Richmond Road at St Ives, which again consisted of several new designs based around the previous two models.
As the company continued to grow, cutting-edge advertising campaigns began. In print media the display homes were stylised with modernist furnishings, the latest Hi -Tech appliances and, in one of many firsts, attention to landscaping.
Other centres were opened with full pomp and ceremony in St Ives at Mawson Road and Staddon Close, where several new larger and more expensive models were introduced and Ken Woolley’s Lowline B won the RAIA design award in 1967.
Branch offices soon opened in Melbourne and Canberra and over the next ten years, armed with designs by Ken Woolley, Harry Seidler, Russell Jack and Neil Clerehan, centres flourished in Belrose, Cheltenham, Thornleigh, Westleigh, Baulkham Hills and then finally the last undertaking, with a modest five houses, was Castle Hill in 1978.
In 1973 Pettit+Sevitt agreed to a sell the business to West Australian Company Landall who in turn agreed to a partial sell out to CHI. Although the partners stayed on in their respective roles by 1978 rampant inflation, a scarcity of land release in close proximity to the CBD and debts incurred by Landall saw the company slide into liquidation.
However, even after its demise it remained a benchmark for the industry in terms of organisational and marketing practices and, of course, design values.
In more recent times, the Sevitt family re-established the Pettit+Sevitt company with the goal of continuing the legacy of its founders.
This text used with kind permission of Modern House.