One of Eden’s greatest treasures is soon to change hands, following the recent sale of the historic Princes Highway property known as ‘The Hollies’.
Built by John Archibald Boyd around 1900, the pre-Federation homestead lies on seven acres and backs onto the stunning Lake Curalo foreshore, its grounds alive with a wealth of magnolias, camellias and azaleas.
Remarkably, it stayed with the Boyd family until 1994, when Carolyn Rogers and her late husband Jim purchased the property at auction, relocating their Government Road nursery.
But while the town has undergone a vast array of change around it, the present-day version of The Hollies is largely unchanged from its beginnings.
The house has retained its original iron roof, with 12-foot high ceilings in rooms either side of the central corridor a throwback to yesteryear.
The only real change is the addition of stairs to the now closed-in back veranda, though Carolyn and Jim worked tirelessly on renovations over the years.
Preserving the history of the property was always a conscious decision for Carolyn, who says the new owners, a Melbourne family who plan to live at The Hollies full-time, are getting their own version of the Garden of Eden.
The purchase is yet to be settled, and Carolyn says she can stay on for up to 12 months as a caretaker before moving on.
“It just feels like home,” Carolyn smiles as she looks around the house, which will celebrate its 114th birthday on May 25.
“It’s just lovely; I always say that I feel like I’m living in the Garden of Eden.
“It’s so quiet, and you don’t feel as if you’re in the middle of town.
“It’s going to be a very sad day that I leave here.
“I’m going to buy another house in Eden; I just haven’t found the right one yet.”
The passing of her husband Jim and a three-month battle with illness prompted Carolyn to sell the property through Chris Wilson Real Estate in December 2012.
But her departure from The Hollies doesn’t mean the end of Carolyn’s Eden love affair, which began way back in 1971 when drought caused her and Jim to leave their Bombala farm.
Despite growing up in Wollongong and starting her working life as a nurse in Sydney, Carolyn says she has never looked back since leaving the city.
“Things were getting on top of me while I was sick and I couldn’t get out in the garden,” Carolyn said.
“I thought that seeing as I’m getting on in years, while I’m still capable I should try and sell it, rather than wait until the day comes that I can’t get out and do it anymore.
“I just love getting out there, taking care of the garden and getting on the mower; it’s just great therapy to me.
“Eden is my home, and it will be my home for the rest of my days; it’s a lovely community and everyone is so friendly.
“At the moment, all my friends are looking out and trying to find a house for me; I need something with a garden, but I won’t know myself with a small yard after living here.”
Carolyn feels a special place in Eden’s history, being the first person outside the Boyd family to own The Hollies.
She has kept in regular contact with Dr Boyd’s daughter, who lives on the north shore and likes to send letters detailing the property’s early days, documented in Dr Boyd’s diaries.
“We were very lucky to get the property at auction because it was a deceased estate,” Carolyn said.
“My husband just loved history, and that was one of the reasons we came here.
“We wanted the nursery, but there was an article and photos on the front page of the Magnet, and the builders were going to put townhouses all down here.
“My husband was against it, and he said, ‘They can’t get rid of that beautiful old home’.
“So we bought it and we’ve spent quite a bit of money doing it up.
“Because they thought it would most probably be pulled down, all the carpet and everything was taken up before we bought it.
“But after Dr Boyd’s daughter realised the work that we’d done here and how much we appreciated the house, she sent the original doormat down here with her nephew one day.
“It’s as old as the house and has ‘The Hollys’ written on it, spelt with a ‘y’ instead of ‘ie’.”
It just goes to show, there’s history in every nook and cranny of The Hollies.
The new owners are getting more than just a home, they’ve got themselves a real treasure.