THE stationmaster’s house that nestles on the southern side of Tenterfield’s iconic railway station received a visit from restoration expert Ian Evans last week as work continues to return it to its former glory.
The main entrance to the house is not on Railway Avenue, but faces the railway station so successive stationmasters could sit on their front verandah and oversee their domain.
While much of the exterior of the building was restored by previous owners, new owner Barbara Lewin has undertaken the major task of tackling the interior.
“Maybe I’m a masochist,” she said, and she could certainly be mistaken for one for living on-site while building contractor David Brown and his team of Blake Brins and Murray Johnson continue their work.
The 1886 building would be among Tenterfield’s earliest constructed of permanent materials, according to Mr Brown. It features four large, high-ceilinged rooms plus the kitchen, each with its own fireplace. There’s also a scullery and washroom, and later additions at the rear of the home.
Mr Davis was invited to cast his experienced eye over the ongoing restoration, and was able to save Ms Lewin a lot of money in the process. Crumbling plaster which she and Mr Brown thought would need to be ripped out and replaced instead requires only patching, according to Mr Evans.
Ms Lewin was drawn to the house during a visit but initially didn’t think the property was for her.
It was only the encouragement of family and friends that saw her end up with the building.
She’s taking a fairly laid-back approach to the restoration, with no timeframe and a “flexible” budget.
Mr Brown had already been working there for five weeks, and Mr Evans feels he’ll be there for quite a few weeks yet.
Mr Brown has great respect for the old home, which he said was well-constructed.
“We’ve got to do the right thing by the old girl,” he said.
“She’s survived 130 years in fairly good condition. It’s important we don’t bugger up so she can go on for another 130 years.”
The property is heritage listed so any structural changes have to be pre-approved, but Mr Brown said the building’s footprint would be essentially unchanged.
Mr Evans was also visiting Tenterfield Station during his trip, so there’s the possibility that Tenterfield may get a mention in one of his upcoming publications. Mr Evans has written a number of books on restoring old houses.
His tips for old properties like the stationmaster’s house are to avoid over-restoring to allow the home to retain its original character, and to try to respect the original uses of rooms.
He advises finishing floors and choosing colour schemes and even fences and garden designs which reflect the original period of the building.
Mr Evans also said its best to stick to materials that were used when the house was built and pay attention to details, but remember it’s a home, not a museum.