'A disaster' : Shire historian slams plans to replace historic Hotham House with car park

A well preserved Federation house, which was an important part of Sutherland Shire’s rural history, will be demolished and replaced by a car park under plans to expand President Private Hospital at Kirrawee.

Hotham House was built in 1912 and a ballroom, where dances and parties were held, was added the following year.

The house stood in the middle of Hotham Poultry Farm, which was at the time the biggest in the state, with about 6000 laying hens.

Shire historian Pauline Curby said the proposed demolition of the house in Hotham Road was “a disaster”.

“This is a beautifully preserved Federation house with intact leadlight windows,” she said.

Ms Curby said the council had advised her the house was considered for listing on the shire’s heritage register during a 1993-1996 study.

However, following submissions against the listing during the public exhibition, the review’s consultant and the heritage sub-committee decided not to list it.

Ms Curby said she could not understand the decision.

“It’s a far more impressive building than a lot of others on the list,” she said.

Macquarie Health Corporation has lodged a development application for a $858,000 upgrade of the hospital, including the demolition of the cottage so a car park can be built.

The DA does not detail the historical background of the “cottage” to be demolished.

The former ballroom is used at present by the hospital as a rehabilitation gym.

Kim Hatherly, who has been researching Gymea’s history for 30 years, said many residents were upset about the proposal.

“Gymea doesn’t have a lot of historical architecture left and this is a particularly fine example of Federation and Californian bungalow styles,” she said.

“It is significant architecturally and also for having been part of the largest poultry farm in the state and possibly the country.

“Poultry farming was the largest enterprise in the shire in its early days.

“To demolish it to make a car park is the ultimate insult.”

Ms Hatherly said many people did not learn of the proposal until after the two-week period allowed for submissions.

However, there had been a strong reaction after it was reported on the Gymea / Gymea Bay Photos Facebook page, which she co-administers.

Residents had been emailing their objections to the council and expected them to be considered.

A Gymea resident, Mick Derrey, who recorded his memories of Hotham Farm in the Sutherland Shire Historical Society bulletin in 1989, said Sid Zealey, an English bricklayer, built the house for the Tildesley family.

It had been originally called Ron-Al-Bert after Tildesley’s three sons. Hotham House was a sign at the back of the house.

Another article written by a society member said Tildesley was also the managing director of the Newtown Enmore branch of the Starr Bowkett Society.

Loans had been decided through a monthly draw, held in the ballroom.

The ballroom was “also used for dances and parties where the right type of young gentlemen and ladies were invited to meet his son and several daughters,” the article said.

“Circa 1925, 4000 pounds disappeared from the society and he was suspected. He disappeared, the family sold the land / house and his wife died in poverty.”