ECU takes stand on Cowan house

ECU takes stand on Cowan house

EDITH COWAN University has taken a stand to save the former home of its namesake, a property that was mysteriously removed from heritage protection 16 years ago.

The property, which is owned by members of the Cardaci family – owners of Centurion transport – is set to be demolished to make room for a seven-storey hotel development.

The 130-year-old building at 31 Malcolm Street in West Perth was built by Edith Cowan and her husband James. The Cowans lives there in three periods between 1883 and 1919.

Heritage Minister Albert Jacob said the property was included in the State Register of Heritage Places on an interim basis in 1999 but removed on June 22, 2000 when “the then Minister for Heritage decided the registration should not be made permanent”.

The reasons for the decision by the then minister, Liberal Graham Kierath, were never recorded.

The Cowan’s second daughter was born in the West Perth home and it was the scene of much of Mrs Cowan’s work for returned soldiers that subsequently saw her appointed to the Order of the British Empire.

An application to demolish the building was lodged with the City of Perth by Ferguson Architects and was considered by the City’s design advisory committee in July.

The university’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Steve Chapman, wrote to the Heritage Minister and the Heritage Council last Tuesday, calling on the State Government to save the historic building.

Professor Chapman said “ECU supports efforts to recognise the heritage value of the family home Edith Cowan built at 31 Malcolm Street, West Perth”.

“Edith Cowan worked tirelessly to improve conditions for women, children and the poor and she believed education played a key role in this improvement.

“She was also Australia’s first female Parliamentarian.

“As such, her home has immense historical, social and cultural value to Western Australia and it should be retained,” he said.

Mr Jacob said there are provisions within the Heritage Act that enable him, on advice from the Heritage Council, to provide special protection to a place in circumstances where it is considered desirable, should the place be nominated.