Fairfield City Museum & Gallery
History and Vintage Village
The Edwardian building - with visible touches of Victorian design and impressive giant order pilasters - was erected in 1913 in Smithfield, Fairfield City's oldest township. Until 1920, the building was used as the Council Chambers of the then Smithfield and Fairfield Municipality. That year the Council found a new home in the commercial centre of Fairfield and the building found new landlords, James and Florence Morris and their daughter Maisie. The house was in their hands until 1980 when the last of the Morris family – Maisie - passed away. Before she died, Maisie made sure her wishes were fulfilled. The house would be transformed into a museum. After some successful lobbying by the Fairfield Historical Society, Fairfield Council bought the property in 1980. Three years later, in 1983 the Fairfield City Museum was a reality. In the next few years, the place grew with the addition of buildings at the rear of the site. Nowadays, the Fairfield City Museum and Gallery comprises three different sections. Apart from the 1913 Museum building, the place has experienced a major development with the addition of the Hallway Gallery and the very nostalgic vintage village.
Built in 1995, the Hallway Gallery showcases some of the museum's extensive photographic collection of the development and changes in the area from 1890 to the 1970s. It also has a very dynamic program of exhibitions. They change every six weeks and involve expressions of contemporary art, craft and social history. Displays in the adjoining rooms give visitors a detailed summary of Fairfield's multicultural development from the eighteenth century to the present.
Among visitors, the Vintage Village is one of the favourite areas. A real excursion to the past, the village recreates some historical moments and places of Fairfield. There you can visit the "Hay Shed", which is similar to the hundreds of tin sheds built on farms throughout Australia, used for general storage. The items stored here reflect some of the rural industries that existed in the Fairfield area until the 1960s.
There are also some outstanding recreations of legendary buildings such as The Biz Newspaper Office and Wheatley's General Store. Inside the newspaper offices you'll see the original printer used to produce The Biz, published for the first time in 1917. Wheatley's General Store dates back to 1892 and the original building still stands in the Crescent, one of Fairfield's main streets.
One of the most significant buildings found in this vintage village, is the 1880s Slab Hut. Classified as a heritage item, the Slab Hut was built with roughly cut Australian hardwood. It is one of the oldest surviving buildings in the Fairfield area and it's the best locally preserved example of a Victorian vernacular cottage. The house may have been constructed as early as 1836, the year that the township of Smithfield was first settled.
Caversham Cottage is another notable piece of history. Built in 1880 on Smart Street in Fairfield it was dismantled and rebuilt at the museum. Caversham is a fine example of a late Australian Victorian period Georgian style weatherboard cottage.
Other buildings in this village include a schoolroom, called Victoria Street School, and The Blacksmith. The schoolroom reflects conditions in New South Wales schools from the 1930s to the 1950s. Visitors are invited to sit at the wooden desks and school students who visit have the opportunity to practice "running writing" using pen and ink. The Blacksmith is a favourite with school students who are shown how to make horseshoes, pokers and garden tools.