Treasures behind the mantle

This photo of a girl with a pram was found behind the mantelpiece.

This week’s story from the Vincent Local History Centre seeks any information on a photo and items found tucked behind a mantelpiece while the 1920s home at 10 Janet Street was being renovated. 

THE older character homes found in the inner-city suburbs of Vincent can contain unexpected mementos of former owners.

Home renovators are sometimes rewarded with unusual and interesting historic finds under their floorboards or buried in their backyards.  

Recently, the residents of 10 Janet Street found some historic treasures tucked behind their living room mantelpiece while renovating their 1920s home. The finds included a faded photograph of a little girl and her toy pram, an old soap box package and a match box containing a tiny pencil and a child’s drawings.

They recently shared their discoveries with the Vincent Local History Centre in the hope of finding out more about the family who left them behind. 

An old soap package and matchbox (above), likely from the ‘40s, were also tucked away.

None of the items were inscribed with names or dates, but it’s likely they date from the 1930s or 1940s. During this time Black Swan Safety Matches were manufactured by the WA Match Company formerly in Havelock Street in West Perth Librarians at the Vincent Local History Centre helped narrow the search for the girl in the photo by scouring through records of former residents of the home, which was built in 1923. With 15 different residents and families living at 10 Janet Street between 1923 and the 1950s, finding the identity of the girl in the photo is no easy task.

After a search through residential and ownership records for the home, it is possible that the little girl was the child of Walter and Evelyn Parker who lived in the home with their two children George and Shirley in the 1930s.

Evelyn Wilhemina Parker (nee Tite) died in 1936 at the age of 28 leaving her husband to raise their two young children. The family moved from 10 Janet Street soon after Evelyn’s death.  

If you are a former resident of Janet Street, or you recognise the little girl in the photo, please get in touch with the Local History Centre. The local history librarians would also love to hear from other residents who may have found historic treasures buried in and around their homes. 

To learn more about when your house was built or the people who have called it home, the Local History Centre offers free workshops to introduce you to resources and information that can help you unlock the secrets of your home.  The next house history workshop will be held in at the Vincent Library and Local History Centre on Wednesday 12 May at 9.30am. The workshop is free, but bookings are essential: email or 9273 6090

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