Three brothers are breathing new life into their family’s historic connection to Barwon Heads.
Terry Griffiths, along with his brothers James and Richard, are renovating two former boathouses at 10 Ewing Blyth Drive that have been in his family since the early 1900s.
The trio are also building a third boathouse, aiming to incorporate some original materials, so they will all have one each.
“The idea is that the three beach houses will sit on the block like siblings, to represent us three brothers,” Terry said. “We want our children and our children’s children to be able to holiday and connect in Barwon Heads.”
He said the first original beach house was built for his great great aunt Lilly Millet early in the 1900s.
It remained on the foreshore until around the 1930s, before it was moved to its present site next to the Barwon Heads Hotel, which was formally the Coffee Palace.
Another boathouse was also added to the block back then, and the two were converted into one house by an adjoining bathroom.
“Our family used to holiday in those houses for five generations, and then a few years ago my dad passed away so my brothers and I inherited them,” Terry said.
“Over time the houses have deteriorated, so my brothers and I looked at how we could move forward.
“We decided to renovate and subdivide the beachhouses and block into three, so we each have our own title.”
He said the restoration project started three years ago, with the finish date expected to be this Christmas at the earliest, and next Easter at the latest.
“The two houses originally on the site were joined by a bathroom and converted into one, so the restoration includes getting rid of that bathroom to again leave two separate boat houses.
“A third beach house will also be built from scratch, aiming to use some original materials.”
Terry said that to date, the two houses had been moved forward on the block and restumped, with the next stage to include plumbing and water connections.
He said he and his brothers had received planning approval from the City of Greater Geelong and encouragement from the Barwon Heads Association, while local architect Kim Irons from IMA and builder John Ekberg from Coastyle were working to bring their vision to life.
“We are working to restore and celebrate what were vandalised, neglected pieces of the region’s history,” he said.
The Victorian Heritage Database states that the house, comprising two former boat sheds, was historically significant for its associations with the half a mile of boatsheds once located on the Barwon Heads foreshore.
“It is recognised by the community for its associations with the development of Barwon Heads as a holiday resort at the turn of the century and demonstrates, in architectural terms, a custom of beach recreation that is no longer in use.”
The house is considered historically significant on both a state and at a local level.