Plea to preserve history

Mark Clement and Deva Weitman are pictured in front of their historic homestead.

Local historians are fighting to protect the historic Eden Park homestead that could be at risk as Romsey development plans progress.

Peter Mitchell settled the farming property in 1858 and it retains many of its original features but lacks formal protection.

The property is included within one of three settlement boundary options discussed in Macedon Ranges Council’s process to create a new town structure plan.

A change of boundary could result in the land being rezoned to allow for more intensive housing development.

Last week the Romsey and Lancefield Districts Historical Society put their support behind an immediate heritage listing of the property.

Member Dr Fay Woodhouse said Eden Park was vitally important to the region’s history and an icon of Romsey.

“Eden Park, running cattle, sheep and growing grain – including chicory, has provided employment and economic benefit to the area since 1858. This property is a fine example of pastoral development by Scottish immigrants.

“If this re-zoning takes place and a developer is permitted to develop the site for housing, 164 years of Romsey history would be lost,” Dr Woodhouse said.

Located on the Woodend Wallan Road, Romsey, the 100-acre property is now in the ownership of fifth generation farmers Mark Clement and Deva Weitman.

The Express reported the couple’s concern about about a potential land rezoning that would subject them to the state government’s hefty Windfall Gains Tax. They say the bill they would face could push them out of farming but don’t want to to see years of history destroyed at the property.

The historical society said the property appeared to meet the nine criteria required for heritage listing.

The house was built in two stages. The gabled and verandah section was built earlier and the later hipped roof Italianate stage was commissioned and designed by Matthews and Round.

The stained glass windows surrounding the front door, featuring the Scottish thistle and grains, reflects the story of the original owners. These were created by Ferguson & Urie, the first stained glass window produces in Victoria.

Stage two constructed in 1875 was built of bluestone quarried from the site on which it stands. Other bluestone outbuildings on the property include a stone cottage built for farm workers.

Dr Woodhouse said the historical society would assist with an urgent application for a heritage listing.

An early image of the bluestone home at Eden Park, Romsey.