Patrick Taylor Cottage museum, 37-39 Duke Street
Phone: (08) 9841 5403
Admission: $2 per person; groups by negotiation; tours available by prior arrangement.
Facilities: Wheelchair access most areas; postcards, souvenirs and history books for sale.
Open: 11am to 3pm daily (1pm to 3pm on Anzac Day). Closed Christmas Day and Good Friday.
Patrick Taylor Cottage is the only building surviving from Albany's earliest days as a military outpost called Frederickstown, founded by Major Edmund Lockyer on January 21, 1827. When prominent early settler Sir Richard Spencer arrived in Albany in 1833 to take up his position as resident magistrate at the Old Farm, Strawberry Hill, the cottage was one of the three ‘miserable houses’ mentioned in his records. It is also the oldest surving dwelling in Western Australia.
The original house dates from 1832 and stands on Albany Town Lot 2 (the second oldest title in the area). It was initially a two room dwelling of wattle and daub with jarrah floorboards and built for £300 by John Laurence Morley, who at the time of building, was assistant government commissariat officer at the Old Farm, Strawberry Hill.
The cottage originally sat on 240 acres, but Morley sold it with a smaller plot of land to wealthy young Scot Patrick Taylor for £205 in 1835.
It is the oldest known dwelling in WA and of significant national historical importance, dating from the State’s first 10 years of European settlement. It is also a unique example of a building technique which has all but disappeared in Australia. The cottage's original timber shingle roof remains intact, but was overlaid with corrugated iron late last century. Today, it boasts 11 rooms including a laundry and bathroom. This growth and adaption of the original building by subsequent inhabitants contributes to its uniqueness.
Ancestors of the original Taylor family retained ownership of the cottage until 1954. In 1962, Albany Town Council condemned the building, citing it as being unfit for human habitation. However, the cottage was granted a reprieve when the newly formed Albany Historical Society raised concerns about its cultural significance and took over its stewardship in 1963. It has doubled as a local history museum ever since.
According to an article published in the West Australian in February 1993, the cottage is one of several older buildings in Albany renown for ghostly visitations. Legend has it, that every September, former tenant, doctor and Boer War veteran, Major Frederick Ingoldby spends time haunting the main bedroom, the place where he drew his last breath on September 4, 1940.
Patrick Taylor Cottage was officially entered into the Australian Register of Heritage Places on a permanent basis in June 2009.