FRIENDS OF COMINOS HOUSE
In a combined effort by Cairns City Council, the Cominos Family and volunteers the building was relocated to Greenslopes Street in September 1988 where it was restored and eventually occupied by a group of Community Arts and Environment organisations.
REMOVAL OF BUILDING TO PRESENT SITE 1988
"Cominos House", built in the late 1880’s, was under threat of demolition when its site on the corner of Abbott (104 Abbott St.) and Florence Streets was scheduled for redevelopment in 1988. The Cominos family offered the house to Cairns City Council for relocation during the early 1980's. The Council refused the offer due to concerns expressed about the presence of infestation in the old timber. However, following Council elections, Mr. Peter Cominos suggested to the purchasers of the property ( Girvan/Mur) that it should be offered to the new Council under Mayor Keith Goodwin, for relocation. The Council quickly accepted the donation which resulted in the house being moved to the present location, here in Greenslopes Street on 1 October 1988. Cairns House Relocators moved the house to the corner of Little and Greenslopes Streets at a cost of $3,000.
The Cominos Family donated an amount of $100,000 towards the re-establishment and maintenance costs of Cominos House in Greenslopes St., on the condition that it was for the use of community groups.
RESTORATION OF BUILDING
July 1988, at a council meeting, a motion to restore the building, initiated by Mayor Keith Goodwin and Alderman Rose Blank, was accepted with the following aims and objectives:
To conserve one of the oldest surviving houses in Cairns, previously owned by pioneering and respected Cairns families.
Friends of Cominos House to be a group of people who share a common interest in the conservation to form an Arts and Environment Centre known as Cominos House, located at the corner of Little and Greenslopes Streets,Cairns.
To secure funding and sponsorship and voluntary contributions for Cominos House Arts and Environment Centre.
To conserve, by way of adaptation, an early Cairns residence of historical and social value in accordance with the Australian ICOMOS Charter for the Conservation of Places of Cultural Significance (The Burra Charter)
To complement the existing landscape of the surrounding site with appropriate species.
To adopt management plans and agreements for the occupancy of the centre.
To instigate a program for the maintenance and development of the centre in conjunction with Cairns City Council
To promote the Cominos House Arts and Environment Centre.
29 April 1989 -Cairns City Council called for Expressions of Interest from community groups in Cairns for use of the building. Council accepted those received from the Cairns Art Society on behalf of the Visual Arts Association of Far North Queensland (in formation) and Cairns & Far North Environment Centre, as umbrella organisations for a large variety of community groups.
13 August 1989 – A public meeting with over 50 people attending at the Greenslopes St. site agreed to appoint a Steering Committee to co-ordinate incorporation of "Friends of Cominos House" - a management body to administer the project.
30 August 1989 – The inaugural Friends of Cominos House meeting was held and it was decided that membership should include representation from Council, The Visual Arts Association and The Environment Centre. An architect, engineer, building consultant, landscape architect, electrical engineer and interior designer would provide specialist advisory services on an honorary basis.
31 August 1989 – March 1991 –The Cominos House Management Committee met frequently during the course of the building restoration to monitor all aspects of project development, and the Council supervised the work. Funding was provided by the Council ($95,000), The Federal Government (World Heritage Grant for Displaced Timber Workers- $48,648* ) and the Queensland Government ( Heritage Grant- $50,000).
In addition, there was very generous community support in the form of reduced or cost-free materials, labour and services from businesses, trades and suppliers (estimated value approx. $150,000).
2 March 1991 – About 140 people attended a celebration of the official opening of "Cominos House - Arts and Environment Centre" by the State Minister for Environment and Heritage, Pat Comben and Cairns Mayor John Cleland, jointly. "Friends of Cominos" was firmly established as the management entity.
Total cost of Cominos House (from Council records 8 April 1992)
Dept of Environment & Heritage $ 50,000
World Heritage Grant $ 48,457
Cominos Contribution $ 74,743
Cairns City Council $ 95,000
Donations etc. $ 170,709
TOTAL $ 438,909
Floor plans and elevations for the restoration are available to view.
*(From Heritage Grant Records)