A conservation project will return a Parramatta landmark to its former glory. Sally Willoughby explains
THE stately George Street Gatehouse is the focus of a conservation project that will rejuvenate the structure and increase community access.
Parramatta Park Trust are looking at the possibility of re-using the north section of the gatehouse as a cafe.
The community has an opportunity to explore the inside of the gatehouse — which was the official entrance on the avenue leading to Old Government House — and speak with conservation professionals at an open day on November 2.
Parramatta Park director Suellen Fitzgerald said the gatehouse was among the first in the pipeline of heritage capital works to be started.
"The conservation of the gatehouse will restore it to its former glory, breathing new life into this memorable entrance of a beautiful and important park," Ms Fitzgerald said.
"As the face of the park, we're hoping to give the community another reason to visit Parramatta Park."
Historically the gatehouse keeper's wife provided picnickers at the park with hot water for tea.
"Parramatta Park Trust looks forward to a time when the gatehouse can come full circle and once again play a role in providing refreshments to park visitors," Ms Fitzgerald said.
"As the historic heart of urban Parramatta, it is very satisfying to be working towards reinstating a former role of the gatehouse to future visitors."
She said cultural tourism would be important in the park's future.
Six gatehouses, dating back to 1870, were built around Parramatta Park . The first was a stone lodge built by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1820.
In 1885, the stone lodge was demolished and architect Gordon McKinnon designed the new gatehouse.
Local builders Hart and Lavor were paid 590 pounds to build the gatehouse with local blacksmith T Forsyth crafting the wrought iron gates.
In May, about $3.2 million was announced for conservation works at the park.
The Parramatta Observatory transit stones, Old Government House fence and carriage loop, as well as the palisade fencing will also be restored.
■ The George Street Gatehouse open day is on November 2 from 2pm to 3.30pm.
Meet some of the Tudor Gatehouse's gatekeepers:
Matilda and Samuel Case are believed to be the first residents of the Tudor Gatehouse
Gertrude and Lewis Taylor lived there with son Keith who was born in the upstairs bedroom in 1902
William Entwhistle moved from the Mays Hill gatehouse to the George Street Gatehouse
Florence and Percy Wyles kept the small zoo, cared for the horses and ran a small shop in the lobby of the gatehouse in the late 30s
Joseph Rose’s family lived there while the United States Army occupied the park during World War II
*Information sourced from The History of a Gate House: The story of a Parramatta Park entrance by Chris Rapp