Barry Barwick is the “custodian of the history of Brownesholme”.
So much so that he dedicated more than 20 years – and a considerable financial outlay – to restore the original house from the former farm on which Carinity Brownesholme is now set.
The land at Highfields on which the seniors’ community sits was once a dairy farm bequeathed to the Baptist Union of Queensland by the late Isobel “Molly” Browne, to be used for a retirement village and nursing home.
After Molly passed away in 1985, the old home in which she lived for more than 80 years was soon in a shocking state of near disrepair.
The home was built by Molly’s grandparents soon after their arrival in Queensland from Ireland in the early-1870s.
“The house was falling down, it was in the middle of the property and no one knew what to do with it. It was in a very, very bad state of repairs and things were falling down everywhere,” Barry recalls.
Barry and his wife Joan desperately wanted to retain this piece of local history. They purchased Molly Browne’s house around 25 years ago and commenced a lengthy and painstaking restoration project.
The Barwicks relocated the 145-year-old dwelling from Highfields to nearby Cabarlah, where Barry has restored the five-bedroom house to its near original state.
“We cut the house in two, got two semi-trailers and transported it across. We had to reinforce it all so it could be moved without falling down completely. I also worked out how to move the 30-foot chimney,” Barry says.
“It’s such a long-term job to restore one of these old houses if you want to get it back to its original state.”
Such is Barry’s attention to detail for his restoration project that he relocated old water tanks, sheds and fencing from the former Browne property to the new site and sourced more than 10 unique paint colours to match the original colour schemes used throughout the home.
Carinity Brownesholme Retirement Manager, Peter Aspin, thanked Barry for his unbelievable efforts to preserve historical buildings in the district.
“Thanks to the Barwick’s wonderful restoration of the Browne family’s former homestead, this grand old house looks the same today as it did well over a century ago,” Peter says.
The new Carinity aged care community, adjacent to the existing Brownesholme retirement village, will open in mid-2021.