SO much heritage has disappeared around 3 Riverside Road in East Fremantle that the 107-year-old home on the property is now out of place, says an architect hired by the owners.
George and Val Le Febre have asked the town council to remove the federation home from its municipal heritage inventory and give them permission to demolish it so the 958sqm riverfront block can be developed (“Demolition plan,” Herald, May 3, 2014).
Mr Le Febre told the Herald the couple was reluctant to go on record in case they sparked a brawl with the council. They preferred to let their architect’s report speak for itself.
“The context that the property originally enjoyed is no longer discernible and therefore the place appears ‘lost’ in its present environment,” says the report, prepared by Shenton Park firm, Hocking Heritage Studio.
“The low scale/low density development brick and limestone developments have gradually been lost and replaced with multi-storey rendered accommodation blocks and large houses that overpower the single storey subject property.”
The architect’s report say the home was extensively remodeled in the 1960s to reflect contemporary styles, and while an attempt was made in the 1980s to take it back to a more authentic look, it involved guesswork and new materials that diminished its heritage value.
“[It’s] a federation era residential dwelling that demonstrates some cultural heritage significance but is not worthy of being entered onto the Town of Fremantle’s (sic) heritage list nor being recommended for entry on the state register of heritage places.”
But an architect’s report commissioned by the council says the home, while not worthy of state listing, is important in the local context and worth preserving.
“In light of this assessment, the Town should consider whether retention of the place in its current management category A is desirable, or whether management category B might be more appropriate,” says a report prepared by Subiaco firm Griffiths Architects, which in 2013 was awarded a WA heritage award for excellence for its work on the WA ballet HQ in Maylands.
The two reports differ over the aesthetic, historic, social and scientific values of the property, as well as its authenticity, with the council’s architects providing higher marks than the owners’.
The cottage was built for John Gracie, part-owner of the Castlemaine Brewery which operated just up the road, although he doesn’t appear to have lived there long. It was later sold to prominent Fremantle draper Harry Beard.
by STEVE GRANT