Thursday, 10 August 2006

According to the Real Estate blog Patrick White's house was listed on "the New South Wales Heritage Register, to save it from any future development." The post is dated 21 November 2004. Matilda said on 23 February 2005: "It is now in private hands and is coming up for sale in the near future." The Real Estate blog followed up, on 8 March 2005:

The Centennial Park house of the late writer Patrick White has had its auction rescheduled for April 6, and the home's four beneficiaries still expect it to sell for at least $3.5 million.

The auction of the Federation bungalow, Highbury, was postponed in November to allow time for the National Trust to raise funds for its plans to create a writers' centre at the home.

Here the online record ends. There was a piece published recently but I didn't clip it, unless my memory is failing faster than I believe is the case. Does anyone remember?

Now, however, according the the Sydney Morning Herald, Grace Cossington Smith's home has been heritage-listed. It's taken her 60 years to reach this exalted region. I wonder if anyone will be willing to purchase the Turramurra property for a painting school, as supporters of White's legacy urged for his place. This artist was a significant modernist, in the Australian canon, anyway. Not comparable with White, in any case. But it's nice to know that these things still mean something, even if White's house was not fully repatriated. The tone of dismal failure is eloquently conveyed by Peter Watts, (then and still) director of The Historic Houses Trust:

"...we looked at the possibility of a museum but the house was so small and so fragile it could only have limited numbers of people going through it".

"We did a plan which showed a large loss. The Government explored some form of writer in residence scheme which would mean it would have an ongoing life," he said.

Some of their recent acquisitions can be viewed in the list on this page.

3 comments:

Ron said...

I can't find anything to back up my belief but I am sure White's house was sold into private hands.

I also seem to remember that before anything was published about the house being up for sale, the contents had already been auctioned off.

I have often wondered who White's beneficiaries were that they felt it necessary to sell everything so fast.

I sent off (and so did lots and lots of other people) many emails to state and federal politicians requesting the govt(s) purchase the house.

I think this whole loss of a major piece of Australia's literary history was sad and unnecessary particularly when I the state and federal govts don't seem to find any problem getting money for sports and similar things.

Dean said...

Literature is a dejected waifin the account books of administrators.

A gay writer is a public liability. An activist, no less. He's dead wood when it comes to government largesse.

Sports rule. We just have to face the fact.

Anonymous said...

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