Turnaround in fortunes for Tarrawanna bungalow
|Author: Alex Arnold
Photographer: Orlando Chiodo
|Publication: Illawarra Mercury
|It was 20 years ago that Meredith Hutton, chairwoman of the Illawarra-Shoalhaven branch of the National Trust, serendipitously landed at The Ridge at Tarrawanna.The decision of Ms Hutton and her husband Mark Bannenberg to leave their Paddington terrace and return to the Illawarra with their young children coincided with the The Ridge being placed on the market for the first time since it was built in 1893.The pre-Federation bungalow, which lays claim to be the first home in the Illawarra to have electricity connected, was home to a series of Corrimal Mine managers.In 1990, The Ridge, which had become neglected, was set to be surrounded by the 167-lot Foothills View Estate.
John Shepherd, who was then manager of Illawarra Land which was behind the development, decided to restore the ageing property and use it as the focal point of the new estate. The renovation was overseen by heritage architect Andrew Conacher.
The move back to the Illawarra and into The Ridge had and continues to have many benefits for Ms Hutton and her family – and for the bungalow itself.
The home has provided a fantastic backdrop for the creative pursuits of their daughters, and was recently used as the set for a feature-length film.
Having someone living within its walls who has been studying, managing and conserving heritage properties since her university days has clearly been advantageous to the house itself.
There are others who have benefitted from the relationship, including the families of many mine managers, and people who may have worked in the mine for whom the Ridge provides some special memories.
And the Wollongong community in general benefits from having the classic property remain on the northern suburbs landscape.
“It is a very friendly house,” Ms Hutton said.
“In summer we open all the doors and it doesn’t matter where the breeze is coming from, you still catch it.
“The verandahs are perfectly designed to keep the summer sun out and let the winter sun in – it is a very comfortable house.
“We do a lot of socialising and have a lot of people here.”
Ms Hutton said the rich history of the house was very important. It had been a home to many individuals who had contributed to the development of Wollongong.
“The house had been occupied by people who had been community builders – they were philanthropic, socially minded, were economically responsible, and had a very high profile in the community.
“If you look at the size of the house, and compare it with other mine workers’ [houses], this was a big-deal house in its day.”
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