Conservation work begins on Everglades House

The rejuvenation of Art Deco icon, Everglades House, is now well underway thanks to the generous donations of members and supporters.

Built in the 1930s by Belgian-born businessman, Henri Van de Velde, Everglades House is a time capsule of Art Deco design in the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains, Dharug and Gundungurra Country.

The house has been in the National Trust’s care since 1962, however before then the impacts of time and weather had left their mark on the building. Many of the original features were either missing or in need of repair, and the clarity of the home’s original Art Deco design had slowly been lost.

Thanks to the generous support of donors and members, over $200,000 was raised from a recent fundraising appeal. Now, the National Trust (NSW) has commenced a schedule of ambitious restoration works to bring the house back to its former glory.

Works completed so far include conservation of the historic Beale and Co. furniture and doors, re-glazing of selected windows, electrical upgrade works and conservation of the home’s key collection items, including an original portrait of Henri Van de Velde.  A large relief artwork and water fountain by the Danish-born sculptor, Otto Steen, has also been cleaned and carefully restored, allowing future visitors to enjoy its light-hearted nod to food gathering and the lavish dining rituals of the Art Deco period.

Everglades mural
Conservators working on the Otto Steen mural. Image: SGR Photo.

“Our aim is to restore and highlight the original interior design and architectural elements of the house,” says National Trust Senior Curator Craig McPherson.

Craig is working with a team of heritage experts, including furniture conservators, paint and mural conservators, textile and paper conservators, master painters, electricians, and the Old Government House textiles group.

The project has already revealed some interesting discoveries. ‘We’ve uncovered additional archival photographs that have informed the original design of the house,” says Craig. “These are proving invaluable for helping us reconstruct the original furniture details to be as close as possible to the original Art Deco design.”

The work is being painstakingly conducted to heritage conservation standards, and the results will be spectacular. “All of these updates will once again allow Everglades House & Gardens to shine as one of the country’s most significant house museums, with a beautifully restored house to match its stunning natural surrounds.”

Inside Everglades house
Inside Everglades House. With the help of recently discovered archival photos, new furniture will be designed to fit the original vision for Everglades House.

The team has also uncovered hidden details of the house’s original colour schemes behind architraves and fixed furnishings and rediscovered an historic photogravure print hidden in the attic which has been conserved to be displayed in the house.

The restoration works will be finished in spring this year. Until then, there is still extensive work to be completed, including repainting the interior of the house, reconstructing known original furniture, and installing curtains and light fittings. New exhibition spaces for the public to enjoy will also be completed with support from the Copland Foundation.

Craig says that once completed, the work will help bring to life the social history and collections of Everglades House. “Once the house reopens to the public we encourage everyone to come and visit. It’s a very special heritage landmark in the Blue Mountains, and we’re looking forward to sharing it with the public for many more years to come.”

A full update on the Everglades House restoration will be published once works are completed. Sign up to our free newsletter to be the first to hear about it.

Learn more

Find out more about the history of Everglades House & Gardens and plan your visit.  

Be a part of something important and help support the National Trust’s work in caring for historic places across New South Wales. Donate today.

Future conservation: Old Government House

Thank you to all the members and supporters who recently donated to our Old Government House appeal. With your incredible support we’ve raised over $270,000 to conserve one of Australia’s oldest public buildings. Stay tuned for updates on this important project.