In bringing their once dilapidated Federation gem back to life Ian and Anne Offor have found some fascinating historical connections
PROVING there is history around every corner, the once dilapidated Brightside House, in Glen Fern, has been wonderfully restored and the new owners have uncovered some fascinating stories in the process.
Since 1971, English- born Ian and Anne Offor have lived in Scotland, Korea, Singapore and Victoria before moving to Tasmania in 2010 after finding the listing for the home online.
“It was in a state of much disrepair,” Anne said.
“The verandah had collapsed as had the conservatory and a small room on the opposite end.
“The grounds had been forgotten and the original orchards gone.
“Fortunately, the beautiful art nouveau architecture had survived with the fireplaces, skirting boards, finger plates, every room with beautiful tin ceilings still there.
“Even the original doors and windows, high ceilings and unfortunately also the outdoor toilet and bathroom.”
So began the arduous, but ultimately rewarding, challenge of bringing the home back to life, allowing interior architect Anne to show off her skills in design and styling.
One of the greatest finds during the renovation, was the discovery of beautiful pressed tin ceilings, beneath a thick false ceiling.
The old conservatory has been transformed into a modern kitchen and dining area and the main bedroom converted into a lounge.
The former living areas where many a party would have been hosted now house the master bedroom and a formal lounge.
In fact, it was the ornate ceiling, in what is now the master bedroom, that sold the house for Anne and is in fact still her favourite thing in the home.
You would never know that the luxurious main bathroom with its hanging chandelier was once the maid’s bedroom.
Keen genealogist Anne has compiled a very comprehensive history of the Federation gem and its former owners.
The house was built in 1906 by orchardist and justice of the peace Charles Willis Fysh, whose grandfather was the first premier of Tasmania in 1856.
The owner of the first car in the state Mr Fysh, however, preferred to travel by horse and trap.
During her research, Anne discovered that Mr Fysh’s daughter Esther was still alive and living in Tasmania and since undergoing an extensive two- year renovation, the Offors have had her back to see their spectacular results. “She was over the moon,” Anne said. “She remembers her mother coming back in the 1940s, when it was really going downhill, and standing in one of the rooms and crying because her husband had built it and she saw it dying.”
Now 98, the Offors have promised to host Esther’s 100th birthday at the property.
And it only seems fitting considering their extra connection.
“I came across a name I recognised in the 1700s from Ian’s family tree and researching it found that his fourth great grand aunt was related by marriage to the Fysh family,” Anne said.
“So he is related to the person who built this house. What are the odds? Offors are clearly supposed to be here.”
Family photos dating back as far as the late 1800s adorn the walls of the hallway to cement their connection to the home and all its grand history now their history too.
With their son’s wedding at the property coming up in February next year, Ian and Anne will be here for some time yet, however, they know that ultimately the house will be too big for them.
But in the meantime they still have some work to do to complete the renovation and some history of their own to create.
READING ROOM: The formal lounge is the perfect place to unwind.