ONE of the region’s most loved cultural buildings is going on the market.Benedict House in Queanbeyan was, in the 1990s, bought by former Prime Minister Paul Keating and the late pianist Geoffrey Tozer with the idea of turning it into a music school.
Long-time home to the Sisters of the Good Samaritan of the Order of St Benedict and to generations of boarders, it is also believed to have given its name to another former Prime Minister, Joseph Benedict (Ben) Chifley.
Benedict house was purchased in 2002 at auction by artist, author and teacher, Kate Shelton and her husband Paul, who moved in during 2003 and have given it a new life over the last 11 years, transforming the house into a centre of craft and local Queanbeyan performance arts, with its café acting as a popular drawcard. It has even hosted a writer and residence.
Describing her time at the house as a “love affair,” Shelton says, “I will yearn for Benedict House as one yearns for a loved one”.
Downstairs, she says, it has shown a public face, while upstairs finding “a retreat, a workshop and a place for creativity: a place for reflection”.
“I have devoted myself to this building. I have watched over it and cared for it with vigilance,” she adds.
Shelton told “CityNews” today that following a recent three-day wedding held at Benedict house for her son, she intends moving to Melbourne to be closer to him and her family, but will continue her creative pursuits. Although she has referred to “the seasonal round of relentless daily work,” that has nothing to do with the decision to move on. “It’s time for me to move to smaller artistic pursuits, to slow my pace,” she says.“Some of the staff are very, very sad,” she said, and although she hopes the artistic tradition of Benedict House lives on, she will have no control over that, although she assured “CityNews” that the external aspects of the building may not be altered.
The doors of Benedict House, Sheltonsaid, would not close until at least late May or early April and advertisements of the property would appear in online and print media from early next week.
As she put it, “Let the new era begin!”