By Claire Ottaviano
STONEVILLE resident Glenn Matthew’s daily commute up and down Great Eastern Highway takes him by the home that housed three generations of his family and a lifetime of memories.
From the end of March, the memories will stay but the home will go when it and six others on Greenmount Hill are demolished.
The homes were purchased by Main Roads WA (MRWA) between 1979 and 1997 for the future road widening of Great Eastern Highway (GEH).
A portion of the properties will be separated for future road works and the remainder sold off.
Photos of 491 and 489 GEH, posted to Facebook by history group Remember Midland in an attempt to find out more about their past before demolition, attracted 160 comments and ignited a debate about heritage recognition and preservation.
It also succeeded in finding the original owners of the homes.
Mr Matthew’s grandparents Violet [nee McGlew] and Owen Connell built 491 GEH in 1917 where they lived until they died and the home was bought by Mr Matthew’s father Tom Matthew and mother Joan [nee Connell].
“When mum had it, the front yard was probably the best garden along the highway in Greenmount,” he said.
“It’s where I grew up.
“But to me it’s now finished, that era’s gone and it’s time to move on.”
His parents sold the home in 1982 and MRWA later purchased it in 1996.
“This whole area used to be vineyards, there were the claypits where we used to go swimming, and up at Blackboy Hill there was only one house and the school,” he said.
“Back in the early years in the 1920s they’d play cricket on the road.
“It was just a rural street.
“But there’s nothing here historical anymore, yes the home was built in 1917, but to me history is Chippers Leap, Rocky Pool, the old Swan View Tunnel, they’re places to be preserved.”
Mount Helena resident Chris Dolbel inquired about buying and relocating one of the homes a decade ago, only to discover they were already owned by MRWA.
“I like the character style, the history, you don’t get that quality of workmanship these days,” he said.
“One had nice leadlight windows, jarrah floorboards and jarrah weatherboards and that 1920 colonial style look.”
Relocating a house is also a very expensive endeavour.
“It was going to cost around $100,000 by the time you cut it down, put it on supports, relocate it, re-stump it, and redo all the wiring,” Mr Dolbel said.
“I suppose it’s not an easy task but there are companies around that do it regularly and professionally, so it is possible.”
Ray Freuer Spurling and Mary Mabel [nee Masters] lived in number 489 from around 1916/17.
Ray Spurling’s parents were Selby Jeremiah Spurling and Barbara Lediard Okey [nee Davis], granddaughter of John Okey Davis, a pioneer settler who arrived in Perth on the Lotus in 1829.
From Echo News’ observations, 489 and 491 are currently in a state of disrepair and have been trashed by trespassers and squatters.