Curiosity celebrated at old shop

February 23, 2024 BY

Magic and wonder: Owner of the Old Curiosity Shop, Brigitte Chitryk-Goss, has worked for six years on a project to repair the building's fence. Photo: BRENDAN McCARTHY

THE completion of a project more than six years in the making was celebrated with a garden party last week.

The Old Curiosity Shop, located on Queen Street in Eureka, was built in about 1863 and over the past six years, work has been undertaken to repair the building’s fence.

The shop was constructed by bricklayer James Warick and he and his wife Caroline used crockery, glass, ceramic figurines, mirror shards, shells, wallpaper samples, architectural ornaments, and mining waste to create mosaics on the house.

The project took 40 years to complete and just before Mr Warick’s death in 1898 the building became known as the Old Curiosity Shop, creating links to the Charles Dickens’ novel of the same name.

Thousands of tourists flocked to the building before it was closed to the public in 1999.

The fence, along with the property and garden is heritage listed and the project to repair the boundary was partly funded by Heritage Victoria.

“The fence had no footings and over the years it started to move and crack,” said current owner Brigitte Chitryk-Goss. “I was concerned it might fall.

“Because it is so specialised, it was very, very difficult to get a contractor to take the project on.”

Local architect and heritage consultant Wendy Jacobs said repairing the fence was extremely difficult.

“The fence was acting as a retaining wall, but it wasn’t structurally built as a retaining wall,” she said.

“The decision was made to virtually rebuild it and the parts with decorations were cut out and reinstalled again very carefully.”

Ms Chitryk-Goss fell in love with the building 23 years ago and decided to buy it with her husband.

At this stage the building had no connected sewage or running water.

“I do mosaics with pieces of ceramics, and I had a commission to do something, so I thought let’s go to Ballarat’s Old Curiosity Shop,” said Ms Chitryk-Goss.

“That was 23 years ago and we came Friday and it was closed and for sale.

“We bought it on the Tuesday.”