On 28 September 1866 Frank McAteer bought a crown allotment on the corner of Barwon Heads and Tannery Roads on which he built the bluestone cottage of four rooms.
This block was sold later than other crown allotments in the district, as it had been retained to be used as a cemetery prior to the gazetting of Mount Duneed Cemetery.
He also bought two other allotments in Horseshoe Bend Road and allotments 1 and 2 on the north side of Tannery Road.
Major extensions were carried out during the 1860’s on the substantial Brearley Brothers Australian Tannery. This was situated adjacent to the bend in the Barwon river, off Jendes Lane and about one mile East of the cottage. It is suspected that Frank McAteer took advantage of the availability of surplus stone which was left over from those extensions, and used it to construct the cottage, shortly after his purchasing of the land*.
Evidence that helps to support this theory exists in the window sills. Three of the four had been carved for window openings approximately 6 inches, (150mm), narrower than those actually in the cottage. In the above picture a shadowline highlights a shoulder designed to align with the masonry reveal, just to the left of the planter.
Also of note is the angular plane of the weathering on the ‘shoulders’, this is very unusual in domestic architecture. Almost universally, the edges of these shoulders are chiselled to a concave profile.
Oddly enough, ‘Sunnyside’ house, in the vicinity of the Australian Tannery, (but with no known direct links to it), also has window sills of a similar design in the original stone portion of it’s structure. This was apparently built in the early 1850s though**, predating McAteers cottage by about 15 years.
Unfortunately, despite an extensive on-site search, no window sills have been located amongst the remnants of the Australian Tannery to enable a comparison to be made.
As the cottage was kept in the family until at least 1937, much of it was in original condition at this time. There is also a bluestone outbuilding which has a nineteenth century appearance.
By 1957 the property was owned by market gardener Reno Saccardo. After this it was under threat from vandalism.
In more recent years the cottage has served as a Healing centre as well as a Cafe. Currently it is still privately owned and being rented out for domestic tenancy.
Folklore has it that it had also been used at times as a Cobb & Co stop, a Post office and a Police station with gaol. No evidence however, has as yet been located that confirms any of these theories.
* Armstrong Creek Urban Growth Area Marshall & Western Employment Precincts Post Contact Cultural Heritage Assessments, January 2014, by Dr David Rowe Authentic Heritage Services Pty Ltd & Wendy Jacobs Architect & Heritage Consultant.
** Outer Areas Heritage Study 1998-2000, by Dr David Rowe Authentic Heritage Services Pty Ltd & Lorraine Huddle.