Out of the ashes

A MENORA home which has gone through two painstaking restorations has taken out top honours in this year’s Stirling heritage awards.

Sue and Trevor Darge had already picked up a heritage award in 2010 when they renovated the art deco home and added a second storey, but in July 2013 most of the home was destroyed by a fired caused by an electrical fault in the roof.

• Sue and Trevor Darge have twice restored their Menora home. Photo by David Bell

• Sue and Trevor Darge have twice restored their Menora home. Photo by David Bell

Rain

What the flames didn’t raze was subsequently affected by rain that seeped in after the blaze, while the burnt remains of the upper level had fallen through to the ground floor making it virtually impossible to move around.

But the Darge’s weren’t deterred, and once again went through the detailed process of reconstructing the period style.

They were able to recreate the geometric style of the leadlight doors and windows using fragments that survived the fire as a guide, but cornices, the ceiling and other materials took sleuthing.

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Ms Darge says the company they’d obtained period-appropriate hand-made bricks from had closed since their first renovation, but they were able to source a smattering of leftovers of differing colours. Skilled bricklayer Michael Woodman got creative by laying them in alternating patterns so the overall effect was a rough match to the original brickwork.

The family was out of the home for 18 months during the rebuild, but are now settled back in.

Ms Darge said she’s long loved old houses, and when their insurer wanted to appoint the builder they fought to have their own heritage experts.

Fire was also the genesis for the other major award given out this year: The Mt Lawley Primary School received the Barrie Baker Special Recognition award for the restoration of its 100-year-old facade following the 2012 fire.

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The state government initially planned a full demolition, but strong community sentiment saw the facade saved with a 63-week rebuild to incorporate what remained.

Long-time heritage protector Ian Merker was also recognised, having been a member of the Mount Lawley Society since 1977 and helped formulate policies back in the early 80s to preserve heritage buildings around that part of town.

He’s now worked with the Royal WA Historical Society to safely store and scan images dating back to the 1890s to make them available for public perusal and purchase on the Mount Lawley Society’s website. They’re viewable at http://www.mountlawleysociety.org.au/historical-photos and the collection’s updated pretty regularly.

by DAVID BELL

940 Precept Financial Services 10x2

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