OPENING Port Fairy’s historic Motts Cottage for private functions and for accommodation are among the options being explored to try to keep it in public ownership.
Tricia Smith, the co-ordinator of Port Fairy’s Strategic Planning Group which last year mounted a campaign to stop the National Trust selling the cottage, said she would support such options if the public still had access to the building.
“If they can make money by letting it out, we would welcome that,” Ms Smith said.
She said her group had developed a good working relationship with both the National Trust’s Victorian and national management since its campaign last year to keep the cottage in public ownership.
The campaign prompted the National Trust to drop its plans to sell the building.
“We (the Strategic Planning Group) are aware it could be sold down the track,” Ms Smith said.
“But if we can maintain it and make it viable, they will support our initiative (to keep the cottage in public ownership),” she said.
Ms Smith said a design had been drawn up to give the cottage site the ability to cater for private functions and accommodation.
The proposed renovations covered parts of the building that were not under National Trust protection.
Ms Smith said more than 1000 people had signed a petition opposing the National Trust’s move to sell the cottage in Sackville Street.
Many of the signatories had since joined a Friends of Motts Cottage group and volunteered to help with opening the cottage to the public and maintaining the building.
Ms Smith said the strong show of support had led the group to consider proposing opening the cottage for a third day each week.
The cottage is presently open between 2pm-4pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Ms Smith said many people had visited the cottage since it reopened before Christmas.
She said the friends group was also in the process of formalising its association to the cottage and the National Trust.
Built in the early 1850s, Motts Cottage is one of Port Fairy’s earliest surviving buildings.
The working man’s cottage is named after Sarah Jane Mott, who owned it from 1918 to 1944.
Former president of the National Trust’s Port Fairy branch, Marten Syme, said while the National Trust’s Victorian branch had withdrawn the cottage from sale, the Port Fairy branch had received no advice on what the state branch planned to do with the cottage.
Mr Syme said the branch was keen to have the formation of the friends group formalised because the group might enable the cottage to be open to the public more often.
He said a shortage of volunteers had previously reduced the number of times the cottage was open to the public. Donations from those who had visited the cottage had not covered the costs of its upkeep, Mr Syme said.