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

IT has commanded attention on the corner of Watkins and Patrick streets since 1887.

But one of Merewether’s most recognisable homes, hand-built by John Angus MacAlpine Gow in 1887, is set for a tree change.

The home at 81 Patrick Street which has been in the Gow family for four generations was purchased by developers Melissa and Tony Calder-Mason for $1.8 million in October.

They will relocate it to a property they own in Lovedale, where it will be used for bed and breakfast style accommodation alongside a seven-bedroom residence at Whitevale Estate.

The Calder-Masons plan to build three “really special” townhouses on the 853 square metre Merewether corner block but did not want to see the historic home torn down.

The developers were behind the warehouse conversion of the old Eckersley art supplies site on the corner of Parry and Union streets as well as M on Watt Apartments.

“I was one of those people who drove past and said, ‘You can't pull it down’,” Ms Calder-Mason, a Bar Beach resident, said. “I don’t like seeing old things destroyed. I like to try to preserve old buildings.

“The intention is to move it up to Lovedale then renovate it back up.”

It is a result that has pleased Bruce and Peter Gow, who reluctantly put the family house on the market in order to provide around-the-clock care for their elderly mother Betty.

“It’s nice it’s going to live on, there are a lot of memories here,” Bruce said.

Betty has been a familiar figure in the immaculate and extensive gardens surrounding the home for the past three decades.

“Mum has lived in the garden for the past 30 years, eight hours in it a day, every day,” Peter told the Newcastle Herald when McGrath Estate Agents listed to home for sale in August. 

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

Ms Calder-Mason hopes to relocate as much of the gardens as possible to Lovedale and also plans to move the city’s oldest registered toilet which is housed at 81 Patrick Street.

It was the third ever toilet plumbed and installed in Newcastle and in its formative years strangers would reportedly turn up on Sunday afternoons to view it in action.