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A home among the plum trees

A little notebook rescued from the Mittagong tip paints a picture of Sydney suburban life in the early 1900s.

 

When it was found in 1984, the delicate little book was missing its cover and several pages. What remained shows the purchase of land and construction of a house in Hurstville in 1913 by a couple named Carl and Gertrude Moore.

Carl and Gertrude Moore notebook, 1913
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The entries begin on 18 January with the pair looking for land to build their dream family home. Their search eventually led them to Hurstville, where they found a block of land on the corner of Belmore Road and Stanley Street (now King Georges Road and Australia Street, Hurstville).

Carl and Gertrude Moore notebook, 25 January, 1913
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The notebook includes details of clearing the land in prepar­ation to build, choosing a house design and finding a builder, planting a garden and getting to know the neighbours and the local area.

It also lists the expenses incurred in the purchase of the land and construction of the cottage — including tram fares and garden tools. Care has been taken with the handwriting and illustrations, and the date of each entry is decorated with a flourish.

The records end before the building was finished, but based on the information included, we know Carl and Gertrude Moore built a single-storey brick cottage, which they referred to as ‘brick villa’. They planted a garden of apricot, peach and plum trees as well as roses, geraniums and other flowering plants. 

This lovingly crafted booklet paints a picture of a young married couple embarking on a huge and exciting project together, and is full of vivid details that bring the period to life:

Had Mrs S’s horse Ginger in ... Man asked if we would let place for cow to graze in ... Saw Mrs Clapson 1st time'  and 'Gertie planted roses, violets, geraniums, baby fuchia [sic] & Chinese honey suckle. Some of the roses planted last time are growing well.

It was donated to the Library in 1984 by Mr C Sonter and is located in the manuscripts collection at MLMSS 4242.