History under the hammer

THE oldest two-storey timber building in the Ballina Shire, Riversleigh Guest House, is on the market.

And the historic building could fetch around the $1 million mark at auction, which will be held on February 6.

Riversleigh, situated in River Street in central Ballina, was built in 1879 as a private residence.

With teak floorboards, asolid cedar staircase, 4-metre high ceilings and wide verandas, it was a grand estate.

But as the years passed it fell into disrepair.

In 2001, the then owner restored Riversleigh to its former glory, and it is now a bed-and-breakfast and restaurant.

Current owners Ross and Penny Whitfield bought the property in 2002.

“It’s amazing what was done during the renovations,” Mr Whitfield said.

“This place used to be known as Cockroach Castle, and lots of local kids thought it was haunted because it was a dark and rundown.

“Now it’s a lovely old place again. We would love to live here, but the truth is that it’s far too big for two people.

“We’d love to see someone buy it and live here.”

Riversleigh has six rooms, each with an ensuite. Ballina’s well-known River Thai Restaurant is also situated in the formal dining room.

Selling agent Keith Jones, from PRDnationwide Ballina/Lennox Head, said the building was a Ballina landmark.

He has already had a lot of inquiries since the first open day last weekend.

“We’ll be starting the bidding at $900,000,” he said.

“Potential buyers have expressed an interest in keeping it as a B&B, and one person even thought they might like it as their residence.”

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