Thursday, November 5, 2009
A history of life.
A few weeks ago I visited the Blue Mountains Historical Society and ordered a search on "the Fibro Majestic," out of curiosity for one and because I was becoming suspicious that the place wasn't as old as the agent had advertised (1880's). To start with I don't think Fibro sheeting was used in this country until the early 20th century. Sure we mined asbestos as far back as 1880 but Wundlerlich didn't start manufacturing in Australia until 1916, and for a few years before that asbestos sheeting was imported.
Sure enough the search revealed that the land here was vacant until sometime between 1914-1916 at which time the house was built for a woman from Balmain, a year or so later she sold it to a woman from Annandale. A tourism property boom saw the value of the place reach a peak in the early 1920's that wasn't to be realised again for over 20 years, but there was the great depression and the small matter of a world war in those 20 years. As far as I can tell the house was bought by a local man in the early twenties, a painter and decorator, who lived here until the 1970's although his wife died young. The historical society records show he died a very old man and he is buried in the local cemetery. Interestingly my neighbour did a similar search and found a similar history, it looks as though 2 old widowers lived here door by door for decades.
The other interesting finding is the name of the place, the sign reading 'Benalla,' out the front bears the name this house has always had, probably named after Benalla in Victoria. For now, though, I'll be sticking with "The Fibro Majestic".