URGENT: GOSFORD FUNERAL PARLOUR FACES ITS OWN MORTALITY

A stunning heritage-listed funeral parlour near the waterfront in Gosford that has ushered out the lives of many local identities is itself facing the possibility of an untimely end. Creighton’s Funeral Parlour at 37 Mann Street was built in 1938 in the Art Deco style by architect F. Vanderwyck Snr. The Creighton’s family business was known in the area since 1844 and was involved in building and demolition work before becoming funeral directors in 1872. Six generations of the Creighton family practiced locally under the business name.

The building is treasured not only because of its association with the well renowned family, but because it is such a marvelous and rare example of an Art Deco purpose-built funeral parlour.

Externally, a grand central arch surrounded by decorative red brickwork heralds the main entrance. This is flanked on either side by secondary arches with quality timber framed lead glazed windows, and the theme is continued on the upper floor with a trio of balconettes showing ornate cast iron balustrades, and three magnificent streamlined parapets at roof level surging into the sky. Decorative balustrades also surround the lower windows. The construction is of textured cement rendered brick, comprising two stories at Mann Street, sloping back steeply to become one storey at the rear.

On the Georgiana Terrace side (left hand, facing) is an enclosed balcony made of locally quarried rock-faced ashlar sandstone while on the opposite wing is a sandstone garage consisting of twin Tudor arches and matching parapet. Behind the garage doors are open concrete pits to allow access for working on the funeral hearses. This has been currently re-purposed as a cocktail bar, showing clever use of a heritage asset. Rather interestingly, the roofline on the Georgiana Terrace side is scalloped while the garage side is straight-lined.

Internally, a central porch leads to the house chapel that extends below street level and is surrounded by small offices. An interesting feature are the backlit frosted glass windows obviously created due to a lack of natural light filtering into the room. Original drawings for the floorplans show that very little has been changed since 1938.

The parlour is located right in the middle of an identified heritage precinct containing several unique buildings, some of which the Creighton family were involved in constructing, including the heritage-listed 1929 former School of Arts directly opposite. According to the Australian Govt. heritage database:

‘The site is located on the main street of Gosford within a precinct of civic and commercial buildings, including Gosford Council Administration Building, the Sydney Electricity building, the Old Gosford Court House and Police Station (now a branch of the Conservatorium of Music), the School of Arts building, the Post Office, Gosford Public School and several churches including a small sandstone church designed by Blacket. This precinct is located near Gosford Wharf which served as the main transport link to the area before the railway was opened in 1887. With the opening of Gosford Railway Station, the main commercial area re-established itself about 0.5km to the north in close proximity to the station, leaving the earlier civic buildings in a group near the wharf.’

Such a beautiful, rare and significant local building that has indeed been heritage-listed because of its qualities should never come under threat. However current owners Zenith have submitted a DA to turn it into a 15 storey skyscraper with 4.51:1 floor space ratio while only retaining the façade of the original Creighton’s funeral parlour, completely overwhelming any heritage reference to the site while destroying the interiors and the structural make up of the building.

original drawing

Original drawing for 37 Mann St. Note structural design changes. Source Gosford Library.

Kay Williams plans

Development plans loom large, courtesy Kay Williams

 

This outcome is simply unacceptable. While the developers will claim they are retaining the façade, the fact is they are destroying the heritage of the building and simply paying lip service to what has stood there and served the people of Gosford since the pre-WW2 era. There is no way that sticking a façade onto the end of a 127 apartment vertical glass monster is any substitute for the genuine heritage this site commands. What’s more is that the façade of the parlour will not be able to be left standing in situ while excavation takes place all around it. Rather, it will be deconstructed and pasted back together as an afterthought using new artificially aged and recycled materials, meaning the original fabric of even the façade will be completely falsified.

While we may not be able to stop unsightly highrise development from infecting waterfront areas up and down the eastern seaboard of Australia, we certainly should be able to stop the wanton destruction of locally listed heritage assets such as this one. The DA, being rushed through council currently, only allows comments until 24 September. The controversial rezoning of the site to a 36m height limit by council has opened the door for this kind of overdevelopment. I strongly urge people to use the link on the council website to oppose the demolition of this building in any shape or form by clicking here. Even a simple comment is helpful.

Remember, September 24 is the cut-off date. Save local history Gosford City Council, do not even think about sacrificing this very unique heritage treasure. A façade is not heritage. It is only a glimpse of what was once there…

Creightons2

Images from 2006 by Spike Anderson.

SPIKE ANDERSON

Oozing Deco charm… Images from 2006 by Spike Anderson.

Creightons4

Balconette with balustrade. Images from 2006 by Spike Anderson.

Creightons1

Lovely rounded corners. Images from 2006 by Spike Anderson.

A more current image, with eccentric colour scheme. Image: Then and now.com

Internal chapel. All this would be lost under the DA. Image Rappoport

Internal chapel. All this would be lost under the DA. Image Rappoport Pty Ltd.

Internal chapel ceiling plaster detail. All this would be lost under the DA. Image Rappoport

Internal chapel ceiling plaster detail. All this would be lost under the DA. Image Rappoport Pty Ltd.

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

6 responses to “URGENT: GOSFORD FUNERAL PARLOUR FACES ITS OWN MORTALITY”

  1. June M Bullivant OAM says :

    thank you so much for your really good blog on this important piece of Gosford History, this building is so important, if the design is demolished and the façade is put somewhere else it is not the same as the original building, you only have to look what the developers are doing in the name of progress.

  2. Kaye Frost-Smith says :

    Sadly, all that developers have in mind is the mighty dollar! I doubt if any of them have even a little finger-full of genuine love & passion for past architecture of any kind! I am not a resident of Gosford, however I can see from this excellent blog, that this is one building that should be saved. It will be a sad day if the developers have their way and it is demolished.

  3. Kerrie May says :

    Please leave this beautiful architecture for future generations to admire

  4. Rebecca says :

    Please raze the eyesores and utilise the wasted space that already exist in Gosford and leave this building alone. dy

  5. Tim says :

    I have just seen the proposal to demolish the heritage listed Art Deco funeral parlour.

    I am aware the submission period has closed, however I have serious concerns that this DA has slipped through largely un-noticed and that many others would strongly oppose the destruction of one of Gosford’s most significant historical buildings.

    I travel past this incredible building everyday and every time I see it, I get great joy and a glimpse into Gosford’s long history.

    Australia lacks historical buildings due to short sightedness and property developer greed. We need to stand up for the future generations who don’t yet have a voice.

    This building gives us a rare window into Gosford’s history and it needs our total protection. A facade is just soul-less building with no integrity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: