It´s time for some history lessons 🙂 and this time I would like to tell you about the Susannah Place Museum in Sydney (Australia). Visiting this place, for me, it was like a journey through time.
These heritage-listed workers’ cottages and grocery store are located in the inner city of Sydney by The Rocks.
The houses have been home to more than 100 families – for nearly 150 years. You can walk through four houses which where inhabited from 1844 to 1990. The stories of this place tell us who those people were, how they lived and how the communities have changed during those years.
Susannah Place is a small early Victorian Georgian ‘two up, two down’ terrace which includes a former corner shop. Each house was originally built with six rooms over three levels, with the kitchen in the basement and external toilets.
Originally, the rooms of the first floor were the bedrooms, whilst the rooms on the ground floor were used as dining and living rooms. And yes, they all slept in the same room. It was rare for children to have the luxury of their own bed or even their own bedroom.
The houses are a source of the changes of technology in this area. For instance, the shift from being dependent for water upon community pumps in the streets to piped water. (In 1885 running water was connected to these houses.) Or, the usage of oil, candles, wood and coal to gas and electricity for light, heating and cooking. (In the picture down below, on the left side, you can see a refrigerator.)
House no. 62 was originally occupied by the builders and owners, Edward and Mary Riley. They arrived to the colony as Irish immigrants with Mary’s daughter Susannah, after whom these terraces where named. The property was purchased for 450 pounds. During the construction of the terraces, a small grocery shop (selling food and essential household items) was included in house no. 64.
After so many years, a huge change threatened this place, when in the 1980s a transformation of the Rocks took place. Many long-time residents left the area after the transformation of this place, into a tourist destination with cafes and shops, had started. Historic Houses Trust chairman Jack Ferguson recognised the value of Susannah Place and he encouraged a project to conserve the buildings.
During the restoration, majority of the rooms have been retained to certain eras, based on the information and history known about the families and also the surviving details. The aim was, to leave everything how it was and don’t change a lot. It was opened to the public in 1993 as a museum.
The museum included the recreation of the corner shop to the 1910-1920s. Nowadays, this shop is the entrance to the museum as well as a shop. Here you can buy lovely things and also the ticket for visiting the museum (open from 2pm–5pm). During peak season, in summer, it’s recommended to book tickets in advance via telephone. For more information, go to their website.
Why I like it?
I felt like beeing home at my granny’s place again and watching her washing the clothes in the garden, because she didnt have a washing machine. Or, the pit toilet of my grandparents, placed in their garden and when I visited them I had to use it :D. I loved the authentically recreated shop. Here again, I found some things my grandparents used when I was a little child (e.g. a carpet beater). It also made me think about all the stuff we have in our homes and which one of those we don’t really use or need. I wonder how life could be when we reduce our belongings and live just with essential things?