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Edith Cowan’s cottage set for upgrade

Thursday, 01 August 2019

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ECU has announced plans to upgrade Edith Cowan House, the cottage that was once the home of Australia’s first female parliamentarian.

The weatherboard home was originally located at 71 Malcolm Street, West Perth. Already in disrepair, it was saved from the wrecking ball by the University in 1991, dismantled, stored and reconstructed beside the lake on the Joondalup Campus in 1997.

Due to termite damage and alterations over the years in West Perth, the cottage is considered a replica that incorporates some original components, including the windows.

The upgrade is the first major works carried out on the cottage since 1997. Internal walls will be reconfigured to create a larger, more flexible space for a wider range of events. ECU will also renovate the bathrooms and kitchen, create an office/change room and upgrade the air conditioning and audio visual services.

At the rear of the cottage, the small back deck will be extended to create a space for outdoor events and performances.

ECU Vice-Chancellor Professor Steve Chapman said the University’s latest investment in the cottage would ensure even more students, staff and visitors can utilise the venue.

“The building represents an important part of West Australian history,” he said.

“With any work like this, the challenge is finding a balance between keeping the heritage features that make the building so unique, while bringing the interior up to 21st century standards so it can be utilised to its full potential. I think we’ve got that balance right”

“Edith Cowan House will continue to be utilised by community groups such as the Peter Cowan Writers Centre. We also look forward to welcoming many more members of the community to join us at future University-hosted events both inside the cottage and in the new outdoor space.”

Edith Cowan House is currently utilised by a range of University and community groups, including the Peter Cowan Writers Centre, named after Mrs Cowan’s grandson and the author of five novels.

Peter Cowan Writers Centre President Keith Melrose said:

“The Peter Cowan Writers Centre, named in honour of her grandson, an Honorary Professor at Edith Cowan University, is fortunate to operate out of the Edith Cowan House. We look forward to continuing Edith’s legacy of putting the community first as we have for the past 23 years.”

The works will commence in November and are expected to take six to eight weeks.

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