As he walked among 200 other people at the 2009 open inspection for the property at 41 Albert Street, Mitcham, Charles Savage thought restoring a dilapidated 160-year-old property might be too much to tackle.
However, as he took in his surroundings, he realised the property had a one-of-a-kind presence that he could not ignore, and decided to take on the challenge.
A professional stonemason and builder with a track record of restoring old villas, Charles has a reputation for taking on jobs that many others would walk away from.
“I thought I had taken on too much of a challenge, but I got there,” Charles says. “Looking back on it now, it is hard to believe that it’s all done and it is so amazing.”
Built in 1850, the property began as the single-storey Brown Hill Creek Inn that served liquid reinvigoration to the men who tilled the gardens and mined the quarry nearby.
In 1869 it became known as the Mitcham Hotel and 10 years later, an impressive second storey was added alongside a refined tea and coffee garden.
“Ladies would go there and enjoy afternoon tea while their husbands would head to the Edinburgh Hotel for a drink,” Charles says.
In 1909 the building was reborn as the Temperance Hotel, one of the many establishments that went sober as part of the temperance movement that swept through South Australia in the early 20th Century.
Since then, the property has been a sweet shop, a betting shop and a unit of flats before becoming a privately owned residence and finally being sold to Charles in 2009.
When Charles finally got the go-ahead to begin his work on the property in 2011, locals and commuters alike watched with interest as the derelict building was painstakingly restored to its former glory.
Charles decided to gut the home’s interior and start again, crafting a modern family home with four bedrooms, four bathrooms and an incredible outdoor entertaining area boasting a heated lap pool and spa alongside manicured gardens.
In 2012, and after 18 months and plenty of blood, sweat and tears, the result is the exquisitely restored building that once again stands proud at 41 Albert Street, Mitcham.
Working on the exterior, Charles was adamant about restoring the facade to its former glory.
“The sandstone at the front of the house had been rendered with cement, so we needed to carefully chip that away so there would be minimal impact on the home,” Charles says.
“As the render came away we couldn’t believe our eyes. Some of the original hand-painted advertising signs were still there, having been preserved by the render.
“I thought it would be perfect to leave them there to honour the building’s heritage.”
Another discovery made by Charles during his renovations was the cellar, which has since been turned into an underground retreat.
“When I bought the property, they didn’t know there was a cellar there,” Charles says.
“But, because it was once a pub, I was sure there would be one and the day I settled, I pulled the vinyl up in the front room.
“There was the trapdoor.”
In 2014, the property was awarded a City of Mitcham Excellence in Design Award for the outstanding work Charles has done collaborating with local history advisor, Therese Willis, and for the final product they were able to craft together.
Although it has been a wonderful home to Charles and his son, Jack, the pair is ready to move on to a new project – an even bigger heritage restoration at Price Avenue.
But, when admiring the result of the Temperance Hotel, it is clear there is no better man to take on the job.
The sale is being handled by Matt Smith and Rocco Perre of Klemich Real Estate.