Fediterranea goes legit

Italian Club president Fred Calginari has welcomed the growing recognition of European post-war migrants in Fremantle’s heritage. Photo by Lottie Elton.

FREMANTLE council will expand its heritage register to include more houses built by post-war Southern European immigrants.

Last week the council’s planning committee added a few notes to existing heritage buildings to recognise the influence of the post-war migrants who landed in Fremantle and helped shape the culture of their new home.

But it plans to go further, expanding the local heritage listing so ‘Fediterranean’ houses can be listed on their own merits. It would be part of “a broader recognition of the architectural and cultural heritage” of those migrants, according to a council report. At present, most heritage-listed buildings – like the colonial architecture in Freo’s West End – date from the 19th and early 20th centuries. 

The heritage list already recognises some places of historic import to southern European migrants, such as Fishing Boat Harbour, the Former Fisherman’s co-op, and a couple of houses in Daly Street and Wray Avenue. However, the list doesn’t include many post-war builds.

Fremantle has a long history of migration from Italy, the former Yugoslavia, and Greece. In 1933, there were just over 6,000 Italians in Australia. By 1976, that number had risen to over 280,000. Many arrived at Fremantle’s port and settled here, bringing with them the distinctive southern European architectural style now visible in many Fremantle buildings. 

These migrants enriched Freo life in numerous ways, not merely architectural. 

University of Notre Dame historian Deborah Gare told the Herald: “The arrival of new migrants in Fremantle in the post-war years helped shift Australia’s transition from being a British outpost in the Asia-Pacific to a multicultural and outwardly engaged society.

“It is essential that we retain evidence of historical, cultural, social and other change. When post-war migration transformed the people and landscape of Fremantle, we experienced forms of change that we must record.” 

Fremantle Italian Club president Fred Calginari welcomed the decision. He said it would help “spread knowledge” about “the multicultural development of Fremantle. 

“What makes Fremantle great is the fusion of all of these different influences – like Italian, Greek, former Yugoslav, and Asian,” Mr Calginari said. 

There are currently over 3000 buildings on the heritage list in Fremantle.

The council says it doesn’t yet know how many homes might qualify for heritage listing for their Southern European influence, but it won’t be rushing the decision.

Media advisor Tim Whyte told the Herald the process would revolve around “conversations with owners and the community more generally” over the next year. 

by LOTTIE ELTON

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