Originally known as 'Observatory House', this building was completed in 1928 to accommodate the Director of Mount Stromlo and family. The Residence was designed by Supervising Architect for the Federal Capital Territory, Henry Maitland Rolland, with substantial input from the founding Director Walter Geoffrey Duffield and his wife Doris. The Residence had hosted seven Observatory Directors and several others before it was severely damaged in the firestorm of January 2003.
In 2013, a generous grant from the Commonwealth Department of the Environment, matched by ANU, provided the opportunity to stabilise the structure, arrest further deterioration, allow public access and interpret the unique heritage values of the place.
The restoration works were carefully planned with expert architectural, heritage and structural advice, adhering to best-practice guidelines including the Australia ICOMOS Burra Charter which recommends a careful approach, to 'do as much as necessary, but as little as possible'.
While many of the interventions, such as steel beams, brackets and lintels are clearly visible, they are essential in supporting the structure. The replica roof, windows and doors ensure the building is secure and weatherproof. While this is not a complete restoration, the work undertaken to date is flexible and allows for future uses of the building.
The Maid's Sitting Room remains exactly in its post fire condition. In this room, you can see the original wall plaster, the line of the timber picture rail and the old oil heater panel. Elsewhere in the building you may be able to spot more areas in original condition such as bathrooms, fireplaces, and the brick piers.
The project has won several awards including the National Trust Award for an Outstanding Project in 2015.