Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Henry Ferdinand Halloran (1869–1953)

by John Atchison

This article was published:

Henry Ferdinand Halloran (1869-1953), realtor, was born on 9 August 1869 at Glebe, Sydney, eldest child of Edward Roland Halloran, a native-born bank clerk and later architect, and his English wife Adeline Burgess, née Reuss. A grandson of Henry Halloran and great-grandson of Laurence Halloran, Henry was educated at Petersham Public School, Newington College and Sydney Boys' High School. Reuss family background influenced his career in land development.

Articled to Arthur Stephen at Blue Gum Flat, near Ourimbah, Halloran became a licensed surveyor (1890), valuer (1895) and conveyancer (1896). By 1897 he had set up in Sydney as Henry F. Halloran & Co., specializing in land and property dealings. His Property Owners Guide (1900) epitomized the entrepreneurial verve that made his firm prominent. On 23 December 1903 in Sydney he married a divorcee Alice Mabel Cobcroft (d.1921), née Chowne.

His 1906-08 subdivisions at Seaforth, Cronulla Highlands, Warriewood, Stanwell Park, Avoca and Yow Yow (near Gosford) emphasized Halloran's predilection for coastal waterways. One of the earliest practitioners of the American manner of real estate development, he used colourful brochures and high-pressure salesmanship. Halloran's preliminary artistic layout of estates was praised by the Town Planning Association of New South Wales (of which he was a fellow and later a vice-president). In his paper at the second Australian Town Planning Conference and Exhibition in Brisbane in 1918, he stressed the necessity of zoning cities and towns 'in the interest of property values'. Halloran represented New South Wales at the 1923 international conference on town planning at Gothenburg, Sweden, and, with Sir John Sulman, the Commonwealth at the 1924 Amsterdam conference. He was a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, London, and of the American Institute of Planners, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, London, and the Institution of Surveyors, New South Wales.

An unassuming but independent man of small build, Halloran embarked on a number of long-range plans, focusing on Canberra, Port Stephens and Jervis Bay; they were thwarted by the Depression. He had established Canberra Freehold Estates after the proclamation of the Jervis Bay Act (1915) and laid out various subdivisions on Canberra approaches. Environa, the most ambitious, was sited on the Queanbeyan-Cooma railway and included clear views of the capital. Its circular and radiating features recalled Walter Burley Griffin's 1912 plan, and with Tanilba Bay and Stanwell Tops, reflected his interest in rustic stone for pillars, archways and rotundas. He also subdivided numerous estates at Lake Macquarie, the Blue Mountains and the central coast. Realty Realizations Ltd was incorporated on 5 June 1930 to take over real estate agency activities, leaving Henry F. Halloran & Co. to act as advisers, conveyancers, surveyors and town planners.

A Freemason, Halloran was a member of the Royal Society and of several clubs and groups. A liking for local history led him to join the Royal Australian Historical Society and enjoy the Australasian Pioneers' Club. He died suddenly on 22 October 1953 at Bellevue Hill and was cremated with Anglican rites. He was survived by three sons of his first marriage, by his second wife Amy Gwendoline, née Powell, whom he had married at Manly on 26 March 1924, and by their two sons and two daughters. His probate was sworn at £70,389. A portrait by Joseph Wolinski is held by the family and he is commemorated by the Halloran fund of the New South Wales branch of the Institution of Surveyors, Australia.

Select Bibliography

  • Volume of Proceedings of the Second Australian Town Planning Conference … (Brisb, 1918)
  • L. Sandercock, Cities for Sale (Melb, 1975)
  • L. Halloran (compiler), An Imaginative Speculator (Syd, 1980)
  • Architecture, 20 Apr 1920
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Oct 1953
  • H. F. Halloran & Co., Subdivision brochures (State Library of New South Wales)
  • private information.

Citation details

John Atchison, 'Halloran, Henry Ferdinand (1869–1953)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 18 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (Melbourne University Press), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


9 August, 1869
Glebe, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


22 October, 1953 (aged 84)
Bellevue Hill, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.