Museum secures grant for Howe House improvements

Hawkesbury Regional Museum in Windsor has been successful in its application for $15,000 funding under the Museum and Gallery Building Improvement Program run by Museums and Galleries NSW. The grant will be used to improve damp and mould issues, currently affecting Historic Howe House.

Howe House holds a special place in the Hawkesbury’s history and is built on a land grant made by Governor Macquarie in 1811, it holds a very special place in our history and has witnessed nearly 200 years of local stories.

Museum Director, Kath von Witt  said that the damp and mould in Howe House are limiting the extent to which this important building can be used, not only to store and display items from our collection, but to provide a high-quality visitor experience.

“Without significant work, the environmental conditions are such that archaeological objects, furniture and artwork cannot be displayed in the house. The mould is also damaging to the fabric of the house itself, which is listed on the NSW Heritage Register, and stands on part of a town allotment made to John Howe by Governor Macquarie in 1811,” said Museum Director Kath von Witt.

The two-storey, brick building has a four- room cellar, and has served as a residence, an inn, and the office of The Australian: Windsor, Richmond, and Hawkesbury Advertiser newspaper (1871- 1889).

In 1962 the building was occupied by Hawkesbury Historical Society, which ran a museum and tourist information centre there for almost 50 years. An extension with a kitchen and toilets was added in 1988, and the cellar, which had been closed off after being inundated in the great flood of 1867, was excavated.

In 2008 the house ceased operating as a museum, and the collection was moved into the award-winning new museum building in Baker Street. This enabled significant conservation work to be carried out on the house, but damp and mould have been an ongoing problem, partly because of the proximity of the ‘Macquarie Wall’, which in the opinion of experts, makes a damp course unviable.

Whilst there have been many attempts to solve the problem, including the re-opening of ventilation in the basement, replacement of some of the flooring, painting, long-term use of de-humidifiers and the use of sacrificial render to draw out salts from the walls, limited funds have meant that the problem remains.Howe House Oct 2012 - Image

The new $15,000 grant will enable the preparation of a Building Assessment Report, which will focus on the condition of the building fabric, energy efficiency, stability of internal environmental conditions, and the need for and impact of, air-conditioning and lighting systems.

The proposed building improvements will safeguard the integrity of Howe House ensuring the building is conserved for generations to come.

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