It was a time for celebration , with the official opening of the restored Bellevue in Blackwattle Bay Park on Saturday 3 March, 2007.
The elegant style of the occasion was in keeping with appearance of the building itself.
Those who arrived early enough sat at tables with covered with gleaming white tablecloths.
Smartly dressed waiters served them champagne cocktails and delicate finger food, while a string ensemble played classical music. Later arrivals helped themselves to sandwiches and bottled water, and sat on the grass.
The Lord Mayor, Cr Clover Moore, welcomed everybody and talked about the history of the house. She then unveiled a plaque and cut the red satin ribbon at the door to open the house officially. We were then invited to walk through the house, which has been carefully restored. The old paint on some walls has been left exposed, showing the layers of the house’s past appearance. Photos, some of them from Max Solling’s collection, helped us to understand the house’s place in the history of Glebe.
Four members of the Glebe Society, identified by red roses, stood by to answer visitors’ questions about Bellevue.
On leaving the house, we signed the visitor’s book and were given commemorative bookmarks.
Duncan Fine, Senior Media Officer at the City of Sydney, says that the unofficial count put the crowd on the day at 2000.
The next step will be to welcome new tenants to Bellevue and to see the building put to an appropriate use.
– Edwina Doe
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Historic Bellevue now stands proudly on the Point, a fine example of Victorian dwellings of the late1890s that once characterised the Blackwattle Bay foreshore.
Saving Bellevue was a long-fought battle starting in the early 1970s. As a result of sustained community and union action, Blackwattle Bay Park, in two parcels, was landscaped and dedicated to Leichhardt Council as part of a deal struck with Parkes Pty Ltd, developers of the adjoining residential unit buildings.
When the park was handed over in 1984, the Council inherited the forlorn ruins of Bellevue and spent some $35,000 making it structurally sound, secure, and reroofed in slate. The intent at that time was for the house to be restored for community use. It was listed as an item of State significance in the Local Environment Plan in 1984, granted a Permanent Conservation Order in 1986 and listed on the State Heritage Register in 1999.
In 1985 the Glebe Society made the first of a number of submissions for its use as a Heritage Centre, focussed on the social and physical history of Glebe and combined with other uses such as Tea Rooms and a caretaker’s flat.
Lack of funding and use saw Bellevue fall into disrepair and subject to vandalism. It was not until Glebe was transferred to the City of Sydney in 2003 that funding started to match the enthusiasm in this long battle for the restoration of Bellevue.
The City included Bellevue’s restoration in the planned Foreshore Walk. The splendid outcome is for all to see, and is an example of what can be achieved with strong collaborative input from community and Council alike.
Now for viable uses!
– Bob Armstrong
First posted on 3 March, 2007