Living Heritage Grant Restores DCA’s Iconic Windows

Deaf Children Australia recently celebrated the repair and restoration of west facing windows in our iconic 1866 Bluestone building. These have been the most exposed and at-risk windows so it was a relief to receive the generous funding from Heritage Victoria’s Living Heritage Grants program which enabled us to conserve them.

Some of these windows, including those in the Tower, haven’t been painted in over thirty years and were in desperate need of attention. The restoration process used traditional trades and skills, employing specialist contractors from McCormack. Project manager and DCA’s architect, David Prest from Howden & Wardrop, worked in consultation with our Heritage Architect, Janet Beeston, to ensure an appropriate conservation approach.

As part of this project, DCA conducted a Work Experience Training Program for students from Victorian College for the Deaf (VCD). The training program has given the secondary students the opportunity to participate in hands-on practical workshops at the college’s Woodwork facility with the restoration specialists. This offered exceptional real life examples of traditional craftsmanship. The students helped with woodwork and painting, and got to see how the windows were removed and repaired.

The project encouraged the students to appreciate Victoria’s Deaf history and the importance of heritage conservation. It also encouraged them to consider options for future apprenticeships in carpentry, painting, heritage conservation etc. This feeds into DCA’s broader work experience programs for deaf and hard of hearing young people.

Zarina Tremellen says, “The windows were quite damaged in the First Floor and the Tower but we are so proud of how they look now. We really appreciate the opportunity we had to turn a heritage restoration project into something bigger with the work experience aspect. John and Craig from McCormack have done a fantastic job working with the students and encouraging them to consider a career in trades. We would love to develop more restoration projects like this in the future. We have been able to target the most urgent and necessary repairs and hope that before too long, we will attract further funding to be able to repair the remaining windows.”

Did you know?

DCA’s old dormitories have tilting windows rather than sliding windows which could have baffled those restoring them. But we know the windows were changed in an effort to stop boys sneaking out of their dormitory or climbing up the drain pipes on to the dizzying three story high roof to visit the girls’ dormitory. We can still see the names of some of these young adventurers engraved on our rooftop!

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