Peter Crone, Renovating Chadwick House
In this film, architect Peter Crone describes the painstaking restoration of Chadwick House, a house designed by Harold Desbrowe-Annear. Desbrowe-Annear was a significant Arts and Crafts architect in Melbourne.
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Peter Crone is a prominent Melbourne architect who has excelled in practice for over 40 years. Peter bought and renovated the Arts and Crafts style “Chadwick House”, which is quite different in appearance and planning to other houses of this period. In 2008 he won an Australian Institute of Architects award for his work on the restoration.
I think when we moved here, we wanted to sort of set a bit of a pattern to what we would do.
This room, I suppose, being the major room... it was the focal point of our investigation. And it had unfortunately been stripped of all the redwood panelling. The fireplace was non-existent. There was a nasty sort of brick front to it.
And so it's really a matter of getting an idea of how the whole thing went together, so I made little holes in the plaster that had been put on the wall and did a series of drawings... scaled drawing through all the windows and the walls, the doors, so that I had a total understanding of how this whole thing went together.
And the interesting thing that came about from that is that... I discovered that the whole house was consistent in its detailing - what was in one room was the same in another, what was with one window was the same with every window.
So, and I suppose crawling around underneath the house, I found lots of pieces of wood. Fortunately, they were old scraps from fireplaces and bits of panelling, and they all yielded clues.
Up in the roof... The roof's interesting, because the windows are counter-balanced with the ropes that go up. They go up via a pulley, and then up along the pitch of the roof via another pulley. At the end of the rope is a little metal cage that houses a house brick, and that counter-balances the windows.
So you go up in the roof and there's this myriad of bricks hanging down. But where the windows had been - that had been taken out - they'd left the pulleys. So the pulleys were directly above that space between the studs, 'cause there's no actual frame - the windows just slide between the studs.
So that, again, has given me the clue exactly where the windows went, the sizes, you know, whether they were a two-bay window or a three-bay window.
And that led on to me doing the kitchen, which had had nasty windows put in, sort of 1950s windows.
I've done nearly all the work on the house. Certainly, all of the timberwork, and that included stripping and restoring the timber, but where it needed replacing, I've done that.
Particularly this room that we're sitting in, I had to redo all the panelling. It's 20 years of work.
Just this sitting room took over a year. So, yeah, it was fairly exhausting.
I basically went through a tech school and learned woodwork and learned lots of things, to use my hands. And that's just one of the joys of being here.
I don't think I could have had someone else come in and do it. The satisfaction is just so important to say, well, 'I've done this.' It's taken a long time.
It could well have been that we paid a lot more for the house than we anticipated, and therefore I couldn't afford to get someone in, but I think all through owning houses, I've always done the work on them.
I won't touch the electrical work, I won't touch the plumbing work... but pretty well everything else.
It's seeing... seeing your ideas come to reality. The built form is really exciting. I think that's the best part of it, because that proves that the creative process has worked.