Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Heritage-Listed Customs House Stands Proud; Bought the Building to Retain Its Historic Features

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Heritage-Listed Customs House Stands Proud; Bought the Building to Retain Its Historic Features

Article excerpt

DO YOU ever wonder what it's like to work in a heritage-listed building? For Stephen Lowry and the team at Alman Partners, it's an absolute pleasure.

Alman Partners, a financial planning practice, is the caretaker of one of Mackay's most iconic heritage buildings, Customs House. Mr Lowry and his business partner Scott Alman bought Mackay Customs House in 2004 and refurbished it for use as an office.

Mr Lowry, a Sydneysider originally, and Mr Alman, a Mackay local, have preserved and promoted the history of Customs House.

aWe looked at the purchase of the house as a custodial sort of thing,a Mr Lowry said. aWe wanted to look after it and love it.a

When they bought Customs House, it was in a state of disrepair. While the building had been renovated in 1985, little had been done in the way of maintenance since. After the customs agency moved to Mackay Harbour, the building was sold to the parents of a former customs officer and sat unoccupied for some time.

Alman Partners, with the support of the Rockhampton heritage department, set about restoring Customs House.

The original brickwork, ceilings, doors, mouldings and pine floorboards were preserved. The floorboards a which had to be sanded by hand a make up one of only three white pine floors in Queensland.

Working with an interior designer, Alman Partners laid carpets, applied fresh paint, and built new toilets. They also installed removable walls in two of the long rooms to better accommodate their staff.

The main long room, accessible by the foyer, is the feature of Customs House most beloved by the staff.

aWith the high ceilings, it's quite a special place to work,a Mr Lowry said. Each of the Customs Houses in Australia has a long room, although they vary in size.

According to one of the former customs officers, beneath the floorboards of the main longroom lies a time capsule. …

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