Ruth Lane Poole's Canberra design work included a third residence – her own. After the Australian Forestry School was established in Canberra in 1927, a principal's house was to be built in Yarralumla, next to the school and the Commonwealth Forestry Bureau. The street was named Banks Street in 1928, after the English botanist Sir Joseph Banks.
A design for the house was created by Federal Capital Commission architects for the first head of the school, Professor Norman Jolly. When Charles Lane Poole succeeded to the post, the Lane Pooles obtained permission to choose their own architect. Their friend Harold Desbrowe-Annear worked closely with Ruth Lane Poole on the design of a house unique in the national capital.
Plans for Westridge House by Harold Desbrowe-Annear
NAA: A9663, Yarralumla - Forestry School (AQ311)
The Lane Pooles knew Desbrowe-Annear through Ruth's involvement in Melbourne's arts and crafts society, and Charles' friendship with Russell Grimwade, whose Melbourne house was designed in a similar style by the architect. Westridge House is the only Desbrowe-Annear house in Canberra.
The newly completed Westridge House, 1928
NAA: A3560, 7503
Ruth Lane Poole visited Canberra many times in 1926 and 1927 while working on the interiors of The Lodge and Government House. When the family finally moved to Canberra in 1927, it was much more convenient for Ruth to keep a close eye on the construction of their own house. They stayed in a hotel until the building was complete.
Ruth Lane Poole worked with Desbrowe-Annear on the most efficient arrangement of the rooms in her new home. On the ground floor were a hall, living room, library, kitchen, toilet, laundry and store, and on the first floor were four bedrooms, a maid’s room and bathroom. The house also had a cellar, but no garage until the Lane Pooles persisted in asking for one. Among the house's innovations were the first 'flush windows' in Australia. These opened completely, sliding vertically into wall cavities, with flyscreens raised automatically as the windows opened.
Ruth Lane Poole influenced the layout of most rooms, including the kitchen. She drew a kitchen plan to show how the cupboards should be fitted and chose the electric stove. The interior decoration and fittings were to her design, from 16 'twisted candle lamps' and the bellpushes to summon the maid, to the light in the toilet.
Letter from Harold Desbrowe-Annear to Charles Lane Poole, 29 July 1927
NAA: CT86/1, 473, p. 167
The Federal Capital Commission provided funds for an entrance drive and brick path and to establish the garden. Ruth Lane Poole arranged for fellow contributor to the Australian Home Beautiful, leading landscape designer Edna Walling, to prepare a plan for the garden.
Rough sketch of plan of garden for Mrs Lane Poole, Forestry School Canberra, Federal Capital Territory by Edna Walling, 11 December 1928
State Library of Victoria
Westridge House and garden, 1929
NAA: A3560, 5307
Both Ruth and Charles enjoyed gardening, but took different sides of the garden. Ruth created colourful displays from herbaceous plants jumbled together, while Charles planted systematically and brought his scientific mind to bear by recording the seasonal growth of some of the plants.
'Canberra Nature Notes', volume 3, week ending 17 October 1941
NAA: A11029, 3, pp. 248–9
The Lane Pooles moved into Westridge House in 1928 and it was their family home for the 17 years they lived in Canberra.