Labour of love for heritage house
FROM an architectural wonder to a frowned upon brothel to a restoration miracle, a heritage-listed house on Coleman Street, Lismore, has come a long way.
Self-confessed renovation addicts, Charlie, 69 and Carol Evans, 63 bought a run down but charming house in 1984 for the unbelievable price of $44,000.
Almost 30 years on, the couple and their daughter Lexie, 29, are still working with the natural charm of the house and are hoping to restore the four-level residence to its original beauty.
The house resides on a block in the St Andrew’s Heritage Precinct and is one of about five houses that has ‘high regional importance’, according to Mr Evans.
“There has been a lot of stopping and starting that has taken up time and money but now we are really focusing on it,” he said.
“When we first bought it we had a builder look at it and he couldn’t even quote a price for it to be renovated. I can’t even put a number on how much it has cost to renovate so far.
“It really is a labour of love.”
The house is divided into four flats with Mr and Mrs Evans living in the top flat which has been painted, sanded, dusted and restored within an inch of its life.
Mr and Mrs Evans, who recently bought an old train carriage with plans to renovate it as well, work each morning cleaning a local school in order to fund their renovating passion.
Despite all the renovations, the couple have tried to use all of the house’s original materials including windows and the iron sheets on the veranda.
Mr Evans has pried into the house’s history only to discover its original architect also designed the old Lismore hospital situated on the Wilsons River and that the house was once a brothel.
“When you find an old house like this you find that every second person in Lismore has lived here or had a family member who once lived here,” Mr Evans said.
“People either have two attitudes to this house, they think it’s hideous and should be dismantled or they think it’s magical.”
The grassy area in front of the house was donated to the council as a reserve area by the house’s previous and first owner, William Cyffin Roberts.
“I always say we will die before this house is finished.
“We both enjoy doing this. We get a lot of pleasure out of it and there is no stress for us.” Mr Evans said.