Merewether house built in late 1880s has been in the Gow family for four generations

One of Merewether’s most iconic residences has gone on the market for the first time in its 130-year existence.

McGrath Estate Agents, Newcastle listed 81 Patrick Street on Wednesday and Principal Sean Redpath will take it to auction on September 16.

Mr Redpath said interest had already been “strong” for the circa 1880s home, which is set on an 853sqm corner block with rear access via Buchanan Street and has been in the Gow family for four generations.

The loved family residence retains many of its original features and is well-known for its immaculate gardens.

It is probably lesser known for housing Newcastle’s oldest registered flushing toilet. 

In a Newcastle Herald article on the home written in 1995, Alan Gow recalled hearing tales growing up about the third toilet installed and plumbed in town.

“I can remember, as a boy, Grandfather describing how strangers would come from all over in their horse-drawn sulkies on Sunday afternoons to see how it worked before they decided whether the new system had any merit,” Alan Gow said at the time.

“Grandfather said he grew very tired of tearing up paper and flushing the toilet to demonstrate how it operated.”

Originally purchased in 1887 for £120, the land was part of a larger allotment in ‘Burwood Estate’ owned by midwife Sarah Watkins.

Alan Gow’s grandfather John Angus MacAlpine Gow was the buyer. He marrried Watkins’ daughter Mary Jane and hand-built the house which stands today with original bullnose verandas and wrought ironwork.

When his grandfather passed away in the late 1940s Alan Gow and his wife Betty purchased the residence and moved in as newlyweds.

Their son Peter Gow, 64, and his brother grew up in the house and have reluctantly put the family home on the market in order to provide their elderly mother Betty the “24-hour care she needs”. Alan passed away in 2012.

“We have no choice unfortunately. The cost of putting her in a nursing home is prohibitive for us so the only asset we have left unfortunately is the house,” Peter said on Friday.

“There wouldn’t be many places in Newcastle I would imagine that have been in the family this long from the original builder through three generations.”

Peter said the home was known by most people around town.

“Everyone loves the appearance of the old verandas and the wrought iron, but mum has lived in the garden for the past 30 years, eight hours in it a day, every day,” he said. 

“I think the garden is it’s most iconic, remembered feature, and how mum’s been out there forever.”

The first open house will be on Saturday at 2pm.

I think the garden is it’s most iconic, remembered feature, and how mum’s been out there forever.

Peter Gow