HISTORICAL: 44 Charles Street in West Gladstone is for sale.
HISTORICAL: 44 Charles Street in West Gladstone is for sale. Kym Cooke

'Holy moly': The interesting history of The Farmhouse

IN A quiet section of Charles Street in West Gladstone, lies a house that has a history dating back to the early years of town.

For retiree Margaret Richards, a wrong turn while driving to her in-laws on Rigby Crescent, 31 years ago, happened to be the best decision of her life.

"One day, we missed the turn from Far Street and ended further along Charles St, to get up to Rigby Crescent," Ms Richards said.

"We went past this house with a daggy handwritten sign on it that said 'Property for sale' and a phone number, and we ignored it.

However, their curiosity got to the better of them.

"It was pretty kind of run down, looked like it hadn't been loved for a while," Ms Richards said.

She and her husband had experience with renovating Queenslander-style homes, and 44 Charles Street was another project to add to their list.

They decided to move out of their previous property on Auckland Street, which was getting busier with traffic.

"These cars hooning up (the street) with little babies across the road, it was too dangerous," she said.

By now, the sale of the property was now managed by a local real estate agent, so Ms Richards and her husband collected the keys from them to inspect.

When they arrived at the house, they found an old Holden car parked in the side yard, and an old lady who was doing lawn mowing.

"She looked very cranky, and she quickly demanded what we were doing here," Ms Richards said.

Once they informed the lady they were there to inspect the property, former school teacher Enid O'Dwyer noticed they were a young family and immediately took a shine to them.

 

Later on, Ms O'Dwyer informed Ms Richards they was going to sell the house to them because she wanted a family in the property.

"It was her family's house that she inherited it from her bachelor brother," Ms Richards said.

"It had remained in the family since it was built in 1905, and we were only the other family to live in it."

The house, nicknamed the The Farmhouse, was built by a pioneering family, and has been in the family until the sale of the property to Ms Richards and her husband Brett.

Once Margaret was handed over ownership of the property, her family initially didn't move in to it immediately.

They had an ambitious plan of moving the physical house to another acreage and develop the land as units, but was not approved by Council.

"We thought 'holy moly', how do we recoop the costs of the house?" Ms Richards said.

Ms Richards and her husband then decided to live in the house, and sell some subdivisions from their acreage.

From there, the couple and their children learned to love the house, and did some minor repairs as they popped up.

However, they didn't renovate the house until they had saved some money, with the project taking five years.

During renovation work, Ms Richards found relics of the past hidden within the house.

"We found some World War I memorabilia...must've been a little badge or somebody's hat...we thought that was pretty amazing," Ms Richards said.

In the verandah, they found a strap and a cut throat razor, but underneath the floorboards, they found something "exciting" and in pristine condition.

"While pulling up old lino...they put layers of old newspapers down," Ms Richards said.

"They have been amazing to read, in fact, we took some of those papers and had them framed...the stories in them are quite interesting."

Ms Richards has some advice for those people looking to renovate old Queensland-style houses like hers.

"Don't be in too much of a hurry to get started, I think it's always great to move in to the space first," she said.

"You need to find out where the breeze comes from, where the sun hits, where is the hottest etc...take your time."

She also says some of the work should be done yourself, because of a greater appreciation for the property.

"If you do it once, and you do it properly, then you don't have to do it again for a very long time."

The fruits of their labour are now on show for prospective buyers, with the property going on sale by Locations Estate Agents.