HOUSES OF IP­SWICH: LAKEMBA

QT Magazine - - HOME & GARDEN - BY DAR­REN HALLESY

THE home perched on top of Den­mark Hill can claim to have two records.

Firstly, it is prob­a­bly one of the best known and talked about in our city lo­cated, a stone’s throw from the Ip­swich Hospi­tal. Se­condly, it is the house that prob­a­bly sits in the high­est spot in Ip­swich, with a view that takes in not only all of Ip­swich, but the Bris­bane CBD out to the East.

The land it sits on was first pur­chased back in 1885, for the grand sum of 16 pounds by a Mr Ge­orge Ren­nie Wil­son, but it wasn’t un­til 1902 that a house was erected on the site.

For al­most 50 years it was owned by Alan Brid­son Cribb, a mem­ber of the fam­ily be­hind the depart­ment store Cribb & Foote.

With high ceil­ings, large win­dows that you can walk through to the ve­ran­das, a huge kitchen, a mas­sive din­ing area and of course, a back deck with views to die for, this is one of the most im­pres­sive houses in Ip­swich.

It’s no won­der that An­drew An­to­niolli chose such an iconic prop­erty to launch his bid to be­come mayor ear­lier this year.

Ja­son and Si­mone Hub­bard have owned the his­toric home for al­most six years, and have put hun­dreds of hours into ren­o­va­tions that make it homely, while re­tain­ing so many of the orig­i­nal fea­tures. “Be­fore we moved here we had a lovely lit­tle Queens­lan­der in New­town,” Si­mone said. “Ja­son is from Ip­swich orig­i­nally, he al­ways loved that style of home.

“His par­ents spent most of their lives work­ing on their home on Glebe Rd, but sadly the house fell vic­tim to a fire.

“We al­ways dreamed of living in the city, and with one child and another on the way, we started look­ing around for a place to buy. We’d driven past this many times and when he said we should have a look I said ‘re­ally’ as we could see the home was in good nick, but still needed lots of work.

“To be hon­est I was a bit daunted by it. Wouldn’t any­one? But it was be­cause of his his­tory of work­ing on older homes and his pas­sion for them, it got us both over the line.”

It is said that ren­o­va­tions are the ul­ti­mate test of a mar­riage, and with two young chil­dren, the cou­ple put many nights and week­ends into the house. Si­mone thinks that it is this shared pas­sion for the his­tory of the house that kept them go­ing.

“I think the ren­o­vat­ing bound us closer to­gether. If we ever stopped in­vest­ing our­selves in this house we might get bored and sell. Even though we’ve come so far, there’s still so much to do. We have a whole sec­tion un­der the house to do and that’s go­ing to be a big project.

I think the ren­o­vat­ing bound us closer to­gether.

“The last part we did re­cently was con­vert­ing the down­stairs laun­dry into a guest bed­room with a small kitch­enette and an en­suite,” Si­mone said. ‘The orig­i­nal gar­dens were quite run down, and it was un­safe for the kids walk­ing on steps that were cracked and bro­ken. For the first year they weren’t al­lowed any­where near that area.

“We ter­raced the side of the house to make it safe, which was a lot of work but it had to be done. That was a big change to the way the house worked, as it gave us an out­door area. We’ve since put in a pool, and the kitchen hasn’t changed much at all. We’ve added bench­tops and mod­ern ap­pli­ances. It was al­ready func­tional, it just needed some up­dat­ing.

Another huge change the cou­ple made was was re­in­stat­ing the Parlour room at the front of the house which fell vic­tim to open plan mod­i­fi­ca­tions in the 1990s. They also re­placed the roof and hand routed

mould­ings on most veran­dah posts which had rot­ted away.

“A most re­cent and sat­is­fy­ing task was re­plac­ing a cast iron drop­per along the lace veran­dah valance at the front – miss­ing for over 25 years,” Si­mone said. “It was a small, but very sat­is­fy­ing task to have cus­tom piece re-cast so the old girl has ‘all of her teeth back!”

Ac­cord­ing to Si­mone’s re­search, the house got its name from a small is­land in Fiji.

“We think the name came from the Fi­jian is­land called Lakeba, which fea­tures a fortress on the top of it.

“There was also a ship called Lakemba, which is the English ver­sion of the word, that used to cruise around there. Be­fore there were street num­bers, houses had names, and that’s why this is known as Lakemba along with other houses that have fea­tured in QT Mag­a­zine like Bal­lachul­ish.

Ac­cord­ing again to Si­mone’s re­search, The Con­gre­ga­tional Hall in Ip­swich was built by a man called Wil­liam Betts, and he built Lakemba for his fam­ily. The house was then sold to a woman who was a newsagent in town, and she bought it at the same time her son was com­ing home on med­i­cal leave from World War I.

“We love that story,” Si­mone said, “as it shows that this house was likely used as a place to heal for that young man. There is a chance she bought this house for him to re­cover. “It’s ex­cit­ing to know that this house has that his­tory, and we’ve not felt any­thing but pos­i­tiv­ity in this house.

“To know that it was a place where some­one healed from the war, plus the fact that Cribbs lived here…. it’s all very com­fort­ing. They were all here for such a long time.

“In al­most 25 years we’re the first fam­ily to take pos­ses­sion… which is a word I don’t like to use… I pre­fer the word ‘cus­to­dian’, as many his­tor­i­cal home own­ers do.”

The house still has all the orig­i­nal door frames, and sev­eral of the win­dows fea­ture stained glass, giv­ing it a sense of colour, and his­tory at the same time. Si­mone feels that al­ter­ing the home with fly­screens would kill the char­ac­ter.

“On a still night bugs some­times can be an is­sue, but the rest of the year we have the at­ti­tude that we want to live in the home the way it was de­signed to be lived in, and th­ese old homes catch the breeze no mat­ter where it’s com­ing from. It means in the af­ter­noons you can choose the place you want to be to take ad­van­tage of that.

“My favourite spot al­ways changes, mainly with the sea­sons. In Sum­mer, the south-east cor­ner is fan­tas­tic, un­der a tree with an old couch. It’s a spot you can al­most nap in.”

So how does Si­mone feel about living in a house with so much his­tory, and know­ing that ev­ery­one in Ip­swich has prob­a­bly seen it at some point.

“I wouldn’t say we’re ‘done’ but the house is re­ally func­tional for us as a fam­ily now. There’s al­ways things to do in an older home, but un­til the kids are teenagers the house is per­fect.

“It’s good to see this home be­ing known for all the right rea­sons,” she added. “I think that’s fan­tas­tic. We love Ip­swich and we hope that in some way we can share that lit­tle part of his­tory and pay it for­ward.”

PHOTO: ROB WIL­LIAMS

Her­itage home Lakemba on Den­mark Hill.

PHO­TOS: ROB WIL­LIAMS

The new pool area, right next to the newly fin­ished guest room with bath­room.

The back deck in­cludes an orig­i­nal piece of brick­work that re­mains un­touched.

Some of the orig­i­nal win­dows re­main in the home.

One of the ren­o­vated bed­rooms.

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