Susannah Place; surrounded by history

susannah place 1The Rocks, Sydney NSW. Here were the pubs the convicts visited. It was home to the workmen. When the government wanted to destroy the little old houses in the Rocks to place some more offices and hotels, some people came in action. Now the Rocks is still an area with restaurants and bars, but for a slightly different crowd. Harbored in this old part of town is a small museum; Susannah Place.

It consists of four small houses dating from 1844. The museum is trying to create the living spaces of families back then by listening to the stories of the people who lived there and their families. They are trying to conserve and not renovate. So you’ll see the paint coming off the walls and stains in the ceiling. It isn’t the kind of charming place you’d like to live, but with some imagination you can see how families used to live here.

The ceilings were low and the rooms tiny. There was original furniture for that era. Every room brought you closer to the present. The first room was the sitting room from Edward and Mary Riley. It had a hard couch with horse hair and a table so they could drink tea. The last room was behind the little neighborhood shop. There was a piano and photos of the last inhabitants. They had a double income and were considerable richer than their predecessors. The last people moved out in 1990. They only had one power outlet for the whole family.

Susannah Place gives you a peek into the past. Into the days where a frigde had to be filled with a big block of ice. The days where you were allowed to take a bath once a week and for which you had to boil the hot water on the stove. The days where as a child your job would be emptying the bed pans of the adults. It makes you truly appreciate development.

The place is brought to life by all the collected stories. They are still looking for stories and so the understanding of how exactly people lived grows. You can only visit the museum by joining a tour. The tour guides all make it sound exciting and know a lot about the people who used to live here. On an iPad you can look at old photos while you are sitting on an old couch, hard as a rock, between the walls that shed their paint, in a little piece of Sydney’s history.

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