Conservation of City-owned heritage buildings | City of Fremantle

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Conservation of City-owned heritage buildings

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The City owns or has vested authority over 37 heritage buildings, and seeks to conserve, manage and maintain them so that they can be used, celebrated and understood by both current and future generations.

Conservation Plans have been prepared for most City-owned buildings and sites. These guide maintenance and improvement works, and in recent years have guided improvements to:

  • Fremantle Boys School
  • Fremantle Markets
  • Evans Davies Building (which houses the ‘Dome’ café on South Terrace)
  • Fremantle Town Hall
  • Arthur Head

All maintenance and restoration work is guided by the nationally-recognised Burra Charter, which defines the basic principles and procedures to be followed in the conservation of Australian heritage places. The Burra Charter recommends traditional techniques and materials  for the conservation of heritage buildings.

Case studies

Case Study 1 - Town Hall conservation works

Fremantle Town Hall in its original state did not have any paint or similar external treatments; In fact buildings of this era (Victorian) are composed of stucco render that ‘breathes’ as a way of expelling accumulated moisture. Unfortunately, not much was known about this when the Town Hall was painted in the 1920s and the building had been slowly ‘suffocating’ since this time.  The exterior paint has contributed to:

  • damp on the internal faces of the walls
  • rusting of embedded steelworks such as window lintels
  • rotting of embedded timber
  • deterioration of the stucco finish and the stone and brick below.

In 2016–17, the City, with the support of the Heritage Council of WA, undertook $2.8m in staged conservation works. This involved removal of the exterior paintwork to restore the original appearance of the Town Hall, as it would have looked in the 19th Century.

Case Study 2 - Old Boys' School 

The City undertook staged conservation works on one of Fremantle’s oldest heritage buildings, the 160 year old Fremantle Boys’ School, between 2015 and 2017.

These works included:

  • replacing asbestos cement shingles with corrugated galvanised steel sheeting to match the roof cladding on the building in 1912
  • upgrading roof drainage
  • carrying out structural repairs to reinforce chimneys, parapets and roof structure
  • reinstating missing historic elements such as the stone finials to parapets and the roof ventilation system
  • rising damp treatment
  • masonry wall conservation
  • electrical and structural compliance work

The works gave the building a new lease of life, with various local community arts organisations including DADAA, the Fremantle Foundation and PianoEasy.

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