Helen and Brian purchased Lucerne in early 2005 and moved in immediately.
Within a month of our arrival the Paddington area was struck by a severe hail storm. We spent a stressful evening shovelling ice out of the rear entrance of the main house, positioning buckets under the many leaks in the roof and mopping up flooded areas.
Much of the rear of the house was damp, exacerbated by undermining of the stone foundations by roots from a Camphor Laurel (Cinnamomum camphora) tree. The verandahs and about two-thirds of the rear brick wall had partially collapsed. In addition, weatherboards and structural timbers had been badly damaged by termites.
And so began our restoration!
The main house is primarily brick, with stone foundations, dry packed on top of a shale surface. The brick walls were mortared onto the foundation stone; however, the softness of the mortar suggested a lack of cement.
We removed the Camphor Laurel tree (a declared noxious plant in Queensland) and then rebuilt the verandahs and excavated and underpinned the foundations of the rear wall with concrete, focusing on the need to waterproof and stabilize the brick walls.
The top one metre of the front wall was particularly challenging. It had a 15 degree outward lean, which we discovered resulted from a termite eaten, timber barge board on which the bricks had been laid. We dismantled the top of the brick wall, replaced the barge board, cleaned the bricks and re-assembled the wall (without the lean!).
In 2006 we replaced the iron roof and gutters of the main house and refurbished the interior of the Coach House. During the re-roofing process we discovered a patch of the original shingles, which we have reassembled and placed on public display, together with a brick imprinted with the paw of (we think) a possum.
The following year we completed the renovation of the original external kitchen building and renamed it Rose Cottage, as it is adjacent to the Rose Garden planted by Dr David O’Sullivan, who lived with his wife Janet and children at Lucerne for 30 years to 1997.
In late 2009 we suffered a setback in our plans when the Port Jackson Fig (Ficus Rubiginosa) tree was badly damaged during a violent storm. We were given permission to remove the remnants of the tree and in early 2010 we found and planted a suitable replacement Port Jackson Fig tree.
Until 2007 we were not aware that Helen is related to Emma Adsett, the wife of James Young, the original owner and builder of Lucerne. William Young (mentioned on the plaque to the left) was James’ father. In pre-internet times, it was believed William was the foreman, but we now understand that James was the foreman and Lucerne was built for James and his wife, Emma.
In our short time here we have been fortunate to befriend some of the earlier occupants of the house and hopefully our stewardship of Lucerne will see it (eventually!) pass to our daughter and remain in the family for many years to come.