A PIECE of Heathcote’s his­tory is about to un­dergo a painful re­birth.

Rath­lin House, the sur­veyor’s of­fice on the corner of Chauncey St, is hav­ing all its wood­work ripped off to re­veal its orig­i­nal sand­stone splen­dour.

And that will then be re­stored to its orig­i­nal state, bring­ing an im­por­tant part of the town back to life.

Af­ter decades of de­cay, the di­lap­i­dated wooden-clad sur­round­ings are to be torn down due to safety con­cerns and the town’s old­est build­ing – it went up in 1854 at the height of the gold rush – will emerge from the wreck­age.

The build­ing was orig­i­nally the home of Phillip Chauncy, the sur­veyor-in-chief for the McIvor gold­field dis­trict in 1853.

The house served as home for the Chauncy fam­ily with Phillip, his sec­ond wife Su­san and their eight chil­dren liv­ing in Heathcote be­fore mov­ing to Dunolly in 1861.

While the gold rush was short-lived, the house and of­fice lasted well be­yond other build­ings in the orig­i­nal camp, such as the gold of­fice, court­house and po­lice stables.

Through­out the decades, the home was used as a med­i­cal prac­tice and then by a den­tist un­til it was de­clared un­fit for habi­ta­tion in 1991.

Now the orig­i­nal build­ing is ru­moured to be­come a bed and breakfast and restau­rant.

Heathcote McIvor His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety re­search of­fi­cer El­iz­a­beth Mur­fitt said the so­ci­ety has been work­ing with the cur­rent own­ers to make sure his­tory is pre­served.

“Our main con­cern was the cot­tage; it’s our most im­por­tant piece of the his­tor­i­cal build­ing. It was im­por­tant for the whole area that we had the cot­tage her­itage listed in the ’90s,” Ms Mur­fitt said.

“All the ex­tra pieces were built on more than 100 years ago when the doc­tors bought the prop­erty. It was in a state of dis­re­pair.

“In 1996 there was some­one liv­ing in the house. She was liv­ing in the wooden part of the house then and there were some bad re­pairs com­pleted on the build­ing.

“It’s never been painted nor had any up­grades, I got to go in­side and have a look at it in 2000. It was eerie with no elec­tric­ity.”

Ms Mur­fitt said it is a bit­ter­sweet mo­ment for the His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety; while the wooden ex­ten­sions on the build­ings will have to be de­mol­ished the orig­i­nal sand­stone will re­main.

“In one sense I’m glad the ren­o­va­tions will be able to high­light the most im­por­tant part of the build­ing. It plays such an im­por­tant role in McIvor’s his­tory through­out the gold rush,” Ms Mur­fitt said.

‘‘It means that peo­ple will think twice now when they do take down an old build­ing. Just look at it first, they’re ab­so­lutely mag­nif­i­cent. Peo­ple spent so much time and ef­fort to keep the orig­i­nal build­ing for them.”

“There are a cou­ple of other build­ings on the block such as the sta­ble and the coach house and I’m hop­ing they’ll be pre­served.”

The Heathcote McIvor His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety is work­ing closely with the cur­rent own­ers to en­sure the his­tory of Rath­lin House is pre­served dur­ing the ren­o­va­tions.

The house has been used as a med­i­cal prac­tice and by a den­tist.

The house was de­clared un­fit for habi­ta­tion in 1991.

Orig­i­nal owner Phillip Chauncy.

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