VIRTUAL FUN WITH HISTORY - WEEK 8by PORT FAIRY & REGION VISITOR INFORMATION CENTRE
Captain John Mills Cottage
All aboard!!! Join us on another week of Virtual Fun with History!
Let’s sail into Captain John Mills Cottage, and discover how it is one of the oldest surviving timber structures in Victoria!
John Brabyn Mills and his brother Charles Frederick started out as sealers and whalers, but overtime became increasingly settled in Port Fairy as a maritime trader and a farmer.
At the beginning of their settlement in Port Fairy, Captain John Mills built a cottage along Gipps Street. The cottage site includes three buildings and stables, and interestingly the interior of the cottage has 58 different types of wallpaper.
While some records indicate the oldest parts of the cottage were built in 1843 other evidence suggests it might be as early as 1841. It is likely to have been built in stages between 1841 and 1856, making it possibly one of Victoria’s oldest homes!
John’s brother Charles first occupied the house until mid-1850’s until he moved to his farm on Woodbine Rd, on the back road from Port Fairy to Warrnambool, opposite the Port Fairy Golf Club.
John Mills then took over and occupied the house from the mid-1850s until 1871.
During that time Captain John Mills was appointed the Harbour Master and held many other positions of importance within the community. The same year Mills left his cottage, he retired from his role as Harbor Master, before passing away 6 years later in 1877.
The Mills family sold the property in 1909 to their neighbour, James Bragg, who lived in the cottage with his family until the 1970s.
By then it was said that the deterioration inside the buildings had made it unhealthy for people to live in, therefore they discontinued living there, however kept it in their private ownership until 1984.
The state government purchased the property in 1984 and spent a lot of money in the 1990s to conserve the exterior of the buildings and restore the inside to allow frequent public access.
Later it was presented as a house museum due to its great scientific, aesthetic, architectural and historical significance to the State of Victoria and to the nation of Australia. Mills Cottage still stands as an important part of Port Fairy History.
Join us next Thursday as we explore more historic buildings, while detailing the stories that shaped the history in Port Fairy.