The excitement at discovering the original trim was a beautiful Tiffany Blue (yes it had it’s own pantone even in 1920!), giving the verandah cross beams their first look at how the street has changed in 50 years and convincing the clad walls to show the hidden v-jays beneath, heart be still….
If you’ve ever been a tourist in an amazing new place, you know that feeling of wonder and awe that overtakes you when you realise the history behind the monuments, the architecture, the people, and the culture. It’s a feeling that takes me back to being a child, where nothing is more important than what’s in front of you right now. You want to look at everything all at once, and you run around like an over-excited chook scratching at the surface of everything. The possibilities are endless, and everything seems undiscovered and brimming with potential.[read more=”Read more” less=”Read less”]
But not everybody appreciates history. Countless students of history have probably wondered what use they could possibly find in learning about the past. If your kids ever bug you about it having to learn history, tell them we have a lot to learn from the past and thank me for these real-world examples.
Why do you think the Vietnamese-owned bakery down the road makes the best bread/croissants/pastries/pies you’ve ever had this side of the Eiffel Tower? If you’ve studied history, you’ll know that the French colonised Vietnam in the late 1800s and held it up until the 1950s. So what do you do when you enter a country uninvited? That’s right, you swap recipes.Why are there streets named Boundary Street in places like West End and Spring Hill?
It was one of many shameful chapters in Australia’s post-1788 history, whereby a curfew existed to stop indigenous people from entering the town at night. So next time you stagger up Boundary Street West End, after a night at the Lychee Lounge, think about the footsteps you are taking on the sidewalk of history.Why do brides carry bouquets of flowers? (And by the way, that’s also how you pronounce Bocquee.) Well, it wasn’t to look pretty baby. It was to ward off evil spirits with something that resembled a garlicky bouquet garni that nowadays you’d be more likely to find on a lamb roast. If only I’d known THAT the first time around.
So you see, the potential for discovering the stories that these houses could tell is a huge part of why I love the vernacular Queensland architecture. These buildings that are uniquely Queensland give me this same feeling everytime I start a new project. If the walls could talk, what would this old girl–begging to be restored to her former glory–have to tell me?But houses don’t talk, even though they were once so alive. You can talk to old residents and neighbours as I have done in the past, but there are fewer and fewer people alive today to tell the tales of these timber and tin beauties. The stories tend to unfold in my head as I peel away the layers during the renovation.
To paraphrase from the recent Goosebumps movie, like all good stories there is a beginning, a middle, and a twist! There’s almost never an ending, as architecture and renovation is so incredibly fluid and most certainly filled with plot twists. Like those Choose Your Own Adventure books I used to read as a child, you can choose the path you want the story to take you on, and sometimes the renovation road less travelled is the one that makes for the most interesting stories.[/read]