Historic house in RMS's way

Julie Whetton in the kitchen of her home.
Julie Whetton in the kitchen of her home. Adam Hourigan

THE prospect of the construction of a second Grafton Bridge right on top of their Greave St home has Dovedale couple Julie Whetton and Keith Willis worried about their labour of love.

Their home, which has been a part of Grafton's history since its construction in 1922, is in the path of Roads and Maritime Services' Option C that they believe is the RMS's preference.

Since buying the home in a run-down condition in 2005 they have spared no expense turning it into a period piece of antique furnishings and stained glass with a view of the Clarence River and Grafton Bridge to die for.

Surprisingly the couple are relaxed about the prospect of the bridge coming through their home.

"If we've got to leave we can always find another house to move into," Ms Whetton said.

"It's more about making decisions like whether to put down the $6000 carpet in the living room or go for the $2000."

Ms Whetton said the uncertainty about the future of where the bridge will go is the hardest to take.

"If we know, then we can make our decisions."

Option C is one of the short- list of six options the RMS has put up for the next round of community consultation in Grafton through until late October.

If their home goes it will be a significant loss to Grafton's heritage.

Ms Whetton said the home was built by Mrs Loxton, daughter of Grafton's first town engineer W B Greave, after whom the street is named.

She fostered children in the home during Second World War and after the war it became the Glyndon Private Hospital between 1954 and 1969.

"A lot of people say to me they can remember the hospital and have lots of memories of doctors and nurses who worked here," Ms Whetton said.

After that, local photographer Rex Bailey lived there and did a lot of his photographic work on the premises.

"The veranda around on the bridge side was where he had his darkroom."

Another notable family to live in the house were the Strausses, who owned a local jewellery store.

Ms Whetton said there was a lot more to worry about than just their house.

"If we have to, we can just move on.

"If they build this option and have all these trucks coming down the Summerland Way into the middle of Grafton, it is going to cause prob- lems.

"What's going to happen if a child is killed near the hockey fields in Villiers St," she said.

"That would be disastrous.

Her preference would be option 14 or 15 which placed the bridge downstream.

Topics:  grafton

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