THE future of Parramatta's oldest dwelling, the state heritage-listed Brislington House, remains in doubt.
Volunteers who run the museum inside the 193-year-old house were left dumbfounded after learning that the state government was considering selling the property.
Located in the heart of the redeveloped Parramatta justice precinct in the city centre, the two-storey Georgian building occupies prime real estate.
It has been a medical and nursing museum since 1983 but in early December its future started to look murky.
Volunteer Doreen Hennesy, a nurse at the old hospital, said it was difficult to open the museum each day unsure if it would continue to exist.
"Volunteers are extremely upset and so are the people of Parramatta. You just have to look through the visitors' book to see that the people of Parramatta want Brislington to stay here," she said.
Because of its listing as a heritage item the house is legally protected, and any major changes require approval from the Heritage Council of NSW.
But local historians and heritage advocates are fearful new owners might gut the house leaving only its facade.
"I'm concerned about the items on display in the building and also about the building itself — will they put ugly airconditioning units through the windows and destroy its heritage?" asked Parramatta and District Historical Society president Trevor Patrick.
Parramatta state MP Geoff Lee said some compromise, like a coffee shop downstairs, might be necessary to make the museum "cost-neutral".
"I support keeping the property in public hands and continuing its use as a museum but there might have to be compromise; it's costing money and that money is coming from delivering health services," Mr Lee said.
Western Sydney Local Health District operations executive director Shaun Drummond said the department was still examining "future opportunities".