The National Monument Project committee has announced the eight historic sites in Tenterfield CBD to be among the first to be restored to their Federation glory, and is hoping for some 'community-minded quotes' from local builders will make its $700,000 grant go as far as possible.
The list and the project's new website were officially announced at a well-attended function last Thursday evening at the Tenterfield School of Arts, "the most important building in Australia" according to project instigator Robert Perry.
Mr Perry attended the launch via video link from Sydney, introducing each of the properties with some of their historic significance. They are:
- the Federation Bakery on High Street,
- the Tenterfield Post office,
- the Tenterfield Star building,
- the National Buildings (housing Alford & Duff etc.),
- the Premier Boot Depot (Mitchell's Shoes),
- the Noted Cheap Store (Tenterfield Laundrette)
- Sing Sing & Co (now Tenterfield Homemakers).
- the Lyric Picture Theatre.
Note these are all singe-story buildings. Work on replacing facades on double-story buildings on the western side of Rouse Street is being impacted by aerial power lines. Committee chair Greg Sauer said Tenterfield Shire Council is still working with Essential Energy on relocating the power lines underground.
The project focuses solely on the area from the shop facade to the kerb, aiming to create a streetscape which transports tourists back to the days of Federation in the later 1800's/early 1900's.
This will involve the restoration of verandahs that were removed due to government dictate when denting car doors became an issue. The new verandahs will be designed to avoid this issue.
While property owners are not required to invest any money into the renovation, it is anticipated that empty properties such as the National Bakery will then be made available for lease.
Councillor Bronwyn Petrie asked why properties that posed a potentially-easier restoration effort -- such as removing tin coverings to reveal original facades -- weren't included in the initial list. Mr Perry said the relevant property owners had not yet opted in.
"Otherwise we'd be leaping all over those buildings," he said.
The project is now three years in the making, with delays due to bureaucracy and red tape. The National Monument Association is still chasing not-for-profit tax status to make donations tax-deductible, with sizeable donations awaiting this step. This is a point of particular frustration for Mr Sauer.
"We're a small group doing great things," he said.
In the meantime committee members are encouraging others join them, for the princely sum of $10 joining fee and $2 per year thereafter.
Mr Perry said the Federation story is yet to be told, and there's no better place to tell it.
"Tenterfield's story is a national story. It's the story of Australia itself.
"We have to bring back the buildings that form the theatre of that."
While the committee is still seeking funding to see the project through to its completion, the bushfire recovery funding granted through council will provide a taste of things to come.
To that end the project managers are seeking anyone with old photos or postcards of the original verandahs, or even parts thereof, to please share them with the committee so that architectural elements can be faithfully restored.
Check out nationalmonument.org.au for more information on the project but particularly the wonderful old photographs of the township.