ONE of Orange’s most significant rooms will get a makeover when restoration work begins on the former council chambers at the town hall in Anson Street.
Now home to OCTEC Limited, the late Victorian-era building played host to some of the most important decisions and debates in Orange’s history from 1888 until 1976 when Orange City Council moved to the civic centre.
OCTEC has called on decor conservation specialist Donald Ellsmore to help restore the paintwork of the room to its former glory.
Mr Ellsmore said the walls were originally decorated with two elaborate hand-painted friezes, which lasted more than 40 years before they were painted over.
A small section has been exposed during preliminary work.
“I’m helping them take it to the next step to recreate it accurately,” he said.
“Buildings get more and more layers of paint on them as time goes on.
“We usually find about a 10-year cycle of painting and decorating.”
Mr Ellsmore said internal decor was usually changed to keep up with trends.
“Rooms like this with strong architecture need a strong painting scheme,” he said.
After establishing the history of the paint layers Mr Ellsmore will decide which parts are significant.
“Sometimes it’s not practical to repeat it,” he said.
“It will have a new scheme - a 2012 scheme.”
Mr Ellsmore says it can be difficult to find tradespeople with the skills and knowledge needed to preserve historic paintwork.
“No-one does it anymore so you have to find someone old and experienced at stenciling and hand painting of lines,” he said.
OCTEC general manager Andrew McDougall said the organisation was keen to fund the restoration.
“We’ve made a commitment to the heritage of this building,” he said.
“It’s one of the most significant rooms in the city.”
He is calling on members of the community to come forward with artefacts and photos from the town hall’s history.
“They might have family members who were previous mayors, staff or aldermen,” he said.
OCTEC chair Jeff Whitton said the board was also on the lookout for the original paintings that hung in the room.
“OCTEC is leading the way in the city,” he said.
“We own two of the most prestigious heritage buildings in the city, old town hall and Croagh Patrick. The board always gets great pleasure in keeping them alive for future citizens.”