When you are talking treasured properties of the Darling Downs, a well-maintained 1929 Californian bungalow is not what you would expect, but if Montrose House’s walls could speak, they would tell a number of fabulous tales.
The house would talk about the time in 1954 when Queen Elizabeth II visited Toowoomba and a four-year old girl was propped up on the front fence by her father. The home’s owner stormed outside and angrily told her to “get off the fence”. The fence was battered so much by the crowds surrounding the Royals that it is still bent to this day. Who would have thought 60 years later, the little girl would be a client of Deazeleys.
Or they may tell about the day a local seed merchant’s young son visited and found a gold Rolex watch by the carport and upon returning it to the owners was rewarded with a silver Florin. This unassuming abode on Margaret Street has housed many colourful local characters over the years, who have contributed to the rich tapestry that is the Downs’ history.
Built by Gilbert Perrin, a local CBD café owner, a myriad of professionals have occupied Montrose for the past 85 years, including a grazier, solicitor, motor dealer, music shop owner and most recently, long established local photographers Jayne and Peter Perkins, owners of Deazeley Studios. “We love the very unique construction about the building, the welcoming front verandah and the big bedrooms (the way they used to make them). I love that the living area is isolated from the rest of the house; a great place to retreat. The rear of the house faces north which makes for a lovely sit out in the Winter sun.”
Jayne and Peter have added their own historical flavour to the beautiful home. Deazeley Studios, which is Peter’s family business, has been in operation for 100 years, and since taking over the premises, the couple have decorated the house with photographic memorabilia. This has included pieces such as a camera from the 1930s, various props from 1940s and 1950s and photographs from 1930s to 1960s which display the lost art of oil colouring. One photograph is more than 100 years old. Jayne makes mention of a particular image which continues to prove a mystery. “It’s a picture of a bride from 1930s. I’ve asked around some of the local retirement villages, but all we can gather about the photo is that it was probably shot at Clifford House. I feel like we’re searching for answers about her 10 years too late!”
Deazeleys has occupied Montrose for 17 years but as the Perkins’ “restful” retirement stage of life draws closer, the couple have transitioned the house into a short stay accommodation housing tenants anywhere from three days to three months. Jayne says of their new venture: “We are finding the work of maintaining lodgings is vastly different to the emotionally invested work of photographing a wedding. All we have to do here is mow lawns, clean toilets and change beds.”
Words by Letoya Coates | Images by Andrew Coates