EVER wondered what the inside of Campbelltown’s historic Blair Athol House looks like?
Well, check out this special slideshow of images snapped this week by Advertiser columnist and history buff, Jeff McGill.
He joined Campbelltown & Airds Historical Society president John White and Campbelltown librarians Andrew Allen and Julie Levell on a tour of the building, led by Trevor Davis.
Mr Davis and Helen Barker bought the building a decade ago and have been busy bringing it back to its former glory, including restoration of the balcony and white wrought-iron lacework.
Built about 1879 by John Kidd, this grand two-storey house on the hill was once a local landmark overlooking Campbelltown’s CBD, seen for miles around.
Unfortunately, under the Campbelltown Council's nose, a developer in early 2000s crammed oversized homes onto small lots which choked off the heritage house from view despite a development control plan.
Former Campbelltown Mayor Aaron Rule, who elected too late to halt the disaster, has since described what happened to Blair Athol as “a testament to deplorable development”.
“A magnificent house has been largely ruined on the site. We only get one chance to preserve historic sites. In the case of Blair Athol, we messed up badly,” he said.
Unfortunately, many other historic homes around Campbelltown have also been swallowed up by suburbia – from St Helens Park and Eschol Park to Glen Alpine – and the same problem looks set to flow into Camden, with developers now pushing to build houses alongside Gledswood homestead.
You can't wind back the clock, so the view of the restored verandah at Blair Athol is essentially a wall of surrounding McMansions.
But Trevor and Helen are doing their best to preserve the grand old home itself, with its ballroom on the bottom floor.
"We feel very privileged. It's great to be part of the history of Campbelltown and we see ourselves as custodians," Helen said.