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Ocean Grove: Cath-Kin

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Known by various names: Connewarre House, Mafeking, Embla, Cath-Kin House.

Ocean Grove: Cath-Kin House

Cath-Kin House in 1948.
[Photograph from the Ocean Grove Album compiled by Bob Irving, courtesy of John Irving, Ocean Grove]

  

The following is taken from the Bellarine Peninsula Echo, 25th August 1982 :-

Farewell to a style of living

An era came to an end with the demolition this week of an Ocean Grove tourist landmark.

The guest house had an amazingly chequered history, although its early history is somewhat vague.

Cath-Kin, a century-old building which saw its last days as a guest house, was well-known by most Bellarine Peninsula residents.

The style of the guest house, along the the other main accommodation, the Chalet, is perhaps responsible more than anything for popularising the coastal resorts for tourism.

Cath-Kin was not built on the site it was finally demolished on, it was shifted from a still vacant block on the Parade.

Now that its site is to be cleared, the present owner, Melbourne business manager, Mr. Charles Lacey, has plans for units.

He says the acre of land bounded by Dare, Hodgson and Orton Streets could accommodate a substantial unit development, but that he has no complete plans at present.

Mr. Lacey said he hired structural engineers and had architects look at the possibility of saving the historic building, but was advised the expense would be too high.

He said the building would have to be almost entirely re-constructed, and would then inherit the major design deficiencies of a century-old building, such as crammed rooms and lack of facilities.

He said the decision had been made to demolish the building because it was becoming a target for vandals and created danger for nearby tenants.

The guest house has undergone several name changes, but Cath-Kin has been the most endearing and most remembered of them.

A former owner, Mrs. A.L. Ellis, managed the guest house with her husband for 35 years, until illness forced her husband to retire three years ago.

Mrs. Ellis said the guest house could accommodate 56 people, and that in the early days such accommodation was so popular a house beside the guest house was rented in addition to take a further 18 people.

She said the house was moved to its present site in 1900, when all Ocean Grove turned out to lend a hand.

Mrs. Ellis said the house was moved in two pieces, a mammoth job for a team of horses and the manpower of the township.

Mrs. Ellis said only half the original building was shifted, the other half being sold privately on its original block.

The house was originally used as a home for retired Methodist ministers, she said.

It also served time as a block of flats before the Ellis' took over in 1944.

She said the guest house was so popular because of its position in the township, which was much smaller in the early days.

The guest house had a fine sea view from its elevated position, and was close to what facilities existed in those days.

Mrs. Ellis said she, like many long-time Ocean Grove residents would be sad to see it go, but realised the impossibility of maintaining such a huge structure under modern requirements.

And from notes made by Bob Irving in 1979 :-

Cath-Kin was originally known as Connewarre House, and was situated about 300 yards west of the Coffee Palace. It then served as a rest-home for Methodist clergymen, but this use was abandoned early in the century, when the building was moved to the north-east corner of Orton and Hodgson Streets and renamed Mafeking House. It had several names after that. By 1979 it had fallen into disrepair with brick flats being erected in front of it.


Last Updated on Monday, 11 May 2009 03:15  

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