A fourth-generation travelling showman, Philip Gill had only lived out of a caravan until he laid eyes on the old Catholic church in Gravesend in 1992.
“I wasn’t housebroken,” says Philip of Gill Bros fame – it’s a name many familiar with rodeos and agricultural shows will recognise.
Which is probably just as well, because Philip wasn’t buying a regular home.
The church had just been deconsecrated, its roof had blown off in a storm and there wasn’t a tree on the property.
“Now it’s like a jungle!” Philip says. “There’re fruit trees – ruby red grapefruits, oranges, kumquats, mandarin…”
And the Gills have done more than just improve the grounds over the last 25 years. They built a 40-foot long verandah. They added an extension to the rear of the church which includes lengthy living area, rumpus and two additional bedrooms. Enhanced the purposes the church could be used for by installing a commercial style kitchen. Added four reverse cycle air conditioners, eight ceiling fans, a 12,200 gallon rainwater tank, double septic tanks, garage and workshop… the list goes on.
But the best addition? A wood-fired heater in the heart of the cavernous old church.
“It’s got to be the best drawing fire in Australia!,” Philip claims. “The flue is over 30-foot tall and it warms the whole church.”
For all the improvements though, the Gills retained the charm of a church which served the farming community of Gravesend for 60 years.
Stunning cypress timber – varnished and in good nick – lines the interior of the main building. And much of the building’s original spirit remains.
“When they deconsecrated the place they cut off all the crosses,” Philip says. ‘It was a Catholic church and there were 12 stations of the cross inside.
“Well, they missed one of ‘em.”
It’s that heritage which made living in this home so special, Philip says.
“And it’s the space,” he says. “With the roof as high as it is, the building as big as it is… I couldn’t even guess how many square-feet it was inside.”
Gauze patio at entrance – ideal for casual sitting area
Spacious open-plan layout in original church that leads up to mezzanine level
Well-equipped commercial style kitchen with five burner gas cook top, electric oven, stainless steel benchtops and dishwasher
Lengthy addition including living space, rumpus and two bedrooms
Generous-sized bathroom with shower and spa-styled tub
Wood-fire heating in original church area
Double lock up garage
Large 1936 square metre block
For further information about this unique property please visit prex.com.au or contact Dominique Hodgkinson on 0428 851 086.