13 October 2023

'Back to life': Goulburn historic building to open for one weekend as conservation works continue

| Claire Sams
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St Clair Villa

St Clair Villa is a well known architectural attraction in Goulburn, but is has been closed since 2017 for conservation. Photo: Goulburn Mulwaree Council/Facebook.

A heritage-listed property is in the middle of receiving some tender loving care – but you can have a look at the progress of the works.

President of long-term tenants History Goulburn Jennifer Lamb said the works were necessary to preserve a unique bit of Goulburn’s heritage.

“It is an important part of the town’s architecture,” Ms Lamb said.

“Goulburn does have major significance for its architecture, and we want to keep that alive.

“We want people to see that these works are to bring the villa back to life.”

Built between 1843 and 1849, it had been affected by damp and age-related conditions.

“It became clear that the building was in a dire state,” she said.

“For it to survive, it needed to have conservation work on it – and quickly.”

Stage one of the works recently concluded, which included a new roof and drainage system, the installation of sub-floor ventilation, the removal of asbestos, moisture remediation works and electrical upgrades.

“We’re talking about conservation, rather than restoration,” Ms Lamb said.

“This is to make sure it’ll last for another 100 years.”

This stage of the works cost $1.26 million, with funding from Goulburn Mulwaree Council and the NSW Government.

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The public can take a peek at the villa’s ongoing conservation at upcoming open days on 18 and 19 November.

Ms Lamb said the organisation was looking forward to opening the doors to the public.

“We’re planning a very small display where each room [in the villa] will have two to three objects from our collection,” she said.

“We’ll also talk about Goulburn’s history, starting with the land, the people, the use of the building and all those sorts of things.”

It’s important that historic buildings are preserved, as they are valuable resources for information of past times, Ms Lamb said.

“This one [St Clair Villa] has seen a lot of Goulburn’s European or colonial history, and through to the present day,” she said.

“For many, many years it operated as a boarding house, and at different points it was a school or a private home.

“There’s some really interesting stories that took place here.”

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The building had been closed from 2017, with History Goulburn moving its collection out of the villa.

“We’ve been able to store it in quite good facilities that have been provided by Goulburn Mulwaree Council,” Ms Lamb said.

“We’ve been very fortunate that people have been very generous and offered us a room, so we can continue with our research.

“People do still regularly contact us or visit us for information, so we’ve been able to continue with that.”

Ms Lamb said that while St Clair Villa would only reopen for one weekend in November, she was confident the group would soon have more permanent access.

“You really don’t know at this stage,” she said.

“We will get there eventually – it might be next year – but we can’t say for sure because there’s no way to know when the works will be completed.”

St Clair Villa is located at 318 Sloane Street in Goulburn.

The open days will be held on 18 and 19 November.

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