8 April 2024

Wanted: Family descendants with connections to Queanbeyan's Ellamatta cottage

| Sally Hopman
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Ellamatta cottage in Queanbeyan

Do you know the history of the Ellamatta cottage in Queanbeyan? Jane Gregory would love to hear from you. Photo: Supplied.

When Jane Gregory saw the Queanbeyan cottage “Ellamatta” in 2009 she knew it was something special.

“I loved it as soon as I saw it,” the Canberra IT architect said, “there was just something about it.”

Jane, her partner Stuart and their two children Lucas and Lara moved into the house that year and have loved their time there, exploring the vintage weatherboard cottage with all its little nooks and crannies.

Intrigued by its history, Jane spent much time trying to find out more about the cottage during their years there, but more recently it has taken on a greater sense of urgency.

The family is selling up because the house has become too small for them, so Jane is keen to track down any members of the original family who lived in it. The house is not heritage-listed so she is concerned that something could happen to it after they leave and that any family descendants would never have the opportunity to go inside again.

Her research led her to Lou Thorn, born 1896, as the builder of the original cotttage – but he did so at Jerrawa near Yass, not Queanbeyan where it is today.

Woman and two kids standing on verandah of old house

Jane Gregory with her son Lucas and daughter Lara on the verandah of their home, “Ellamatta” in Queanbeyan. Photo: Supplied.

His obituary from the 13 April, 1965 edition of The Queanbeyan Age, said: “In 1951, at a time when most men would be considering retirement, he undertook the almost impossible task of transporting his home, piece by piece, to 29 McIntosh Street, Queanbeyan. There, with the same keenness and devotion to detail displayed so many years before, he set about reassembling the home. Today … the house stands as a lasting memory to his skill and ingenuity”.

Jane said for her family, part of the atttraction of the house was its quirks. Like how on paths around the house, there were little pieces of colour blended into the concrete, along with words such as “yes”, “this leads to home” and “1962”.

“These things just made me so curious about the house, but there was always a comfortable easy feeling about the place.”

Today, the home retains that 1920s feel with its 11-foot ceilings, wainscoting on the walls, decorated cornices, leadlights and original polished hardwood floors. It was those timber floors, Jane said, which gave her the first hint that the house might not have always been located in Queanbeyan. “You can see in some places where they have been cut to be moved,” she said. “That just added to the intrigue of the place.”

After Lou Thorn died in 1965, his wife Louisa stayed at McIntosh Street until 1977. Their daughter June also lived there but sold the home in 1980.

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Jane said she also discovered that June married Wal Bush and they settled in Goulburn. They had a daughter, Karen Jo-Anne, who was born in around 1962 and also lived in Goulburn.

“I just thought it would be good for her, as a granddaughter, to see the house again,” Jane said. “I can’t find her on social media but she might have a different surname now.

“I wanted her to see the house but I was also wondering if she could tell me any more family history – I would love to see a photo of her grandfather. As his granddaughter, she must have been in this house at times, it would be so nice to meet her.”

Jane said she was keen to hear from anyone who could help her track down members of the Thorn or Bush families with connections to Lou Thorn and his family.

“If they wanted, it would be wonderful for them to see the old place once more.”

If you can help, use the comments space below.

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