"Oban" is set in substantial grounds, on the crest of a hill in the centre of town and is a landmark in Stawell, visible from many vantage points.
Architecturally, Oban is an example of a large transition style house. It uses elements of both late Victorian and Edwardian residential architecture, featuring the use of red face brick, simple arched window surrounds and carved and decorated barge boards on the gables. lt also has a slate roof. The original balcony had wrought iron returning between the projecting bays on the two main elevations.
"Oban" was built as a private residence for Mr and Mrs Edward Simmons in 1898 and was reputedly called "Oban" after the families' home town on the West Coast of Scotland.
Historically, it is important as the only real mansion built by any of the citizens of Stawell made rich by gold in the 19th century.
Edward Simmons (1839-1918) was born in Essex, England and migrated to Victoria in 1858. He dealt in livestock on the diggings and arrived at Pleasant Creek, from Moonambel, in 1860, opening a butcher shop with his brother Walter. Simmons became wealthy from mining investments and was a major investor in the Oriental mine and the Sloane's and Scotchman's Mine.
He was one of very few men who made money in the Stawell Mines and afterwards lived in the town and helped in its development. Simmons married in 1868 and they had 10 children, all being born in Pleasant Creek/Stawell. He died on September 20, 1918 and is buried in the Stawell Cemetery.
In his last will and testimony he left 59,577 pounds, mainly to relatives, but his bequests to Stawell in his lifetime included the cost of forming the lake in Victoria Park (now Cato Park). His capital also assisted the ailing Stawell mining industry to carry on, the industry surviving him by only two years.
After Simmons passed away the house was sold to a Doctor Dunn who used part of downstairs as a medical practice. Doctor Dunn was also responsible for the landscaping of the grounds. The property was sold on again around 1930, this time to the Strangio family as a private residence. Charlie Strangio and his cousin Vince Pinzone had a fruit shop in the Wimmera Cafe in Stawell's Main Street. They renamed the building "Mt Salina" after the island in Southern Italy where they came from.
The property is now owned by the RSL, they having purchased it in 1948. For safety reasons, the RSL had the crumbling balconies removed prior to moving in.