When Deborah and Grant Cotter heard the old Boorowa Police Station was in danger of becoming a row of six villas, they bought it. It wasn’t something they had planned for – “We didn’t really have the money to buy it,” says Deborah – but there was no way they were going to let it be demolished.
Perhaps it was their background in antiques, or their differentiation between renovation and restoration – they opt for the latter – but more than likely, if you speak to Deborah, it was because people “kept knocking down all the old buildings”.
“This started happening quite a bit in Boorowa, where there was little respect shown for old buildings,” she says.
“We thought if this keeps up, there’ll be no more history left here. The old rotunda in the park here got pulled down, and we just didn’t want that to happen to this place.”
In 2010, the couple, who are originally from Sydney, bought the old police station, which dates back to 1864.
“It was a nondescript sort of building,” says Deborah. “It hadn’t been lived in for a while.”
Their plan was always to restore, not renovate.
“You need to respect old buildings,” says Deborah. “So I did the designing and Grant did the work.”
After they bought the building, Deborah and Grant tried to investigate its history, but not a lot of information surfaced.
They checked the police archives and some Boorowa history books only to discover the police station dated back further than they thought.
“That also showed the way it was built – it has a bluestone foundation,” says Deborah.
The cop shop was clearly designed to deter any potential escape from its jail cells.
“We also discovered it won’t fall down anytime soon – we felt that earthquake a few weeks ago, but everything was OK,” says Deborah.
The Cotters made many discoveries while restoring the old police station, from original rubble where the cells were located to what they believe is a very early septic tank system complete with three different chambers.
And, of course, it wouldn’t be a Boorowa house without its own well which is still in use today.
But the prize find was an antique gun rack which they found in the original toilet.
“As antique dealers, this was particularly interesting to us,” says Deborah. “We saw the original government stamp on it for NSW Police black powder guns.”
The former police station now looks pretty different to its law enforcement days, including a picket fence that surrounds the property; three renovated bathrooms; four bedrooms; a modern kitchen, complete with original fuel stove; outdoor water feature; and solar panels on the roof.
Only the red brick gives away its age.
There’s also a breezeway that connects the front of the house to the rear which was originally used as troopers’ quarters when the building was a corrections centre.
With the house finished, the Cotters are now working on restoring another historic home in Boorowa.
‘We have loved living here,” says Deborah. “But it is too big for us now so we have decided to sell it.”
The former Boorowa Police Station at 60 Queen Street, Boorowa, will go under the hammer at an onsite auction this Saturday, 30 October, at 11 am.