Ohio Homestead | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Ohio Homestead

Item details

Name of item: Ohio Homestead
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Homestead building
Location: Lat: -30.9672731462 Long: 151.6134723400
Primary address: , Walcha, NSW 2354
Parish: Walcha
County: Vernon
Local govt. area: Walcha
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Amaroo
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP737751
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
 WalchaWalchaWalchaVernonPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Ohio Homestead Pty LtdPrivate 

Statement of significance:

The homestead is Walcha's oldest house.The property is significant to the history of early N.S.W. pastoral and rural development.
Date significance updated: 10 Apr 01
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Construction years: 1836-1839
Physical description: Ohio homestead was built in three stages. First was probably a single storey four room stone cottage, the second was the southern section with three dormer windows lighting the bedrooms upstairs. Local materials of rough volcanic stone and timber were used to build the house with locally fired bricks used for the chimneys.The low ceilings and thick stone walls were similar to those found in Scottish houses. Interior walls were of slab, lathe and plaster. The roof is made of iron. Brick fireplaces warmed the four main rooms on the ground floor which opened from central hallway and there is a staircase leading up to the bedrooms upstairs. The stone kitchen building behind the house is connected to the main house by a covered walkway, along which vinesgrew (Jillian Oppenheimer S90/04839)

Some years later, probably in the late 1870's or early 1880's, the house was extended to the north. A new front door, entrance hall and stair-way were built. A sitting room was added downstairs with two small rooms opening off it and upstairs there was another bedroom and storage space. Before the turn of the century an iron roof was put over the shingles so that rain water could be collected for household use. The stone store building was probably built at the same time as the northern extensions to the house or may have been earlier c.1850.

Some additional wooden buildings were added behind the kitchen in early 1900's. Most station out-buildings had been built of timber and the stables, now demolished, were made of cedar slabs.

The woolshed dates from early this century when machine shearing equipment was installed about 1905.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Has been used in an archaeological excavation and report by University of New England.
Date condition updated:19 Feb 98
Modifications and dates: 1870s/1880s - house extended to the north
c1890's - An an iron roof was put over the shingles so that rain water could be collected for household use.
The house remained a family home for the Nivison's till 1950 when the Church of England bought it and used it firstly as a boy's home and then a conference centre. The church sold the property in 1971 to descendants of the original owner Abraham Nivison and now it is owned by Ohio Homestead Pty.Ltd.
1971-80 (circa) 1970 current owners spent several years restoring it into a family home, as it was c. 1860s.
Current use: farm, residence
Former use: farm, Church run boy's home , conference centre.

History

Historical notes: Ohio is Walcha's oldest house and, with Salisbury Court, Uralla, is one of the two remaining homes of New England surviving from the 1840s.

It has an attractive setting, looking down on the willow-lined Ohio creek and is surrounded by elms and pines protecting it from hot westerly winds. The permanent waterhole in the creek, probably first determined its position.

Ohio was first taken up about 1836 by John Herring Boughton, who lived at Tillimby on the Paterson River near Gresford. In July, 1839, when New England's first Crown Lands Commissioner, G.J. Macdonald, visited the Walcha area, Ohio consisted of three slab huts where eight men lived and it had a five-acres paddock of wheat, 3,285 sheep, nine head of cattle and one horse.

When the first NSW census, which included New England, was taken in 1841, there were thirteen men at Ohio, most of whom were assigned shepherds working for Boughton under the supervision of John Townshend.

In 1842, Boughton sold his depasturing licence to Abraham Nivison, a Scotsman from Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire. He had sailored from Greenock, Scotland on the" Superb", a ship of 635 tons, on 13 July, 1839, with his bride, Mary Wightman, whom he had married a fortnight earlier. The young couple joined her brother, A.S.Wightman in the Hunter Valley, where they gained experience of colonial conditions and looked about for a suitable place to settle. New England's climate and pastoral potential must have appealed to them because soon after they bought the Ohio run, they went up to the Tablelands to live and began to build the stone homestead.

When Mary Nivison arrived at Ohio with one young daughter, she would have been among the small number of about 120 women living in New England, an area approximately the size of Britain. Her first son, born in 1842, died at Ohio before his second birthday and is buried below the house. Ohio land did not belong to Abraham Nivison until 1854. It had been held under an annual grazing licence of 10 pound, with an assessment on the number of stock on the run.

With an area of approximately 20,000 acres in 1847, Ohio carried 4,250 sheep, 97 cattle and eight horses. By 1851, it held 5,356 sheep, 217 cattle and 26 horses and was run in conjunction with Congi, a run of 16,000 acres and about 4,000 sheep. After several requests, Abraham Nivison received permission to purchase part of his head station of 160 acres with another 304 and 320 acres, for which deeds were prepared in September 1854. In the same year he purchased "Tillimby" from J.H.Boughton and, with a mortgage on that land grant, borrowed money to progressively purchase the "Ohio" lands over the next two decades. Other properties bought included "Yarrowitch", east of Walcha; "Prospect,", near Commissioner's Waters, Armidale and "Thorndale", near Warwick on the Darling Downs.

Abraham Nivison's interests revolved around his pastoral business, his church and his family. His interest in pastoral affairs can be seen with his encouragement of trial plots of pasture grasses at "Ohio" and Yarrowitch; introduction of Tasmanian Merino sheep from Youngtown in 1868 to improve the "Ohio fine wool flock, which had come from Boughton's purchase of merinos from the Macarthur family. This interest in the nutrition of his sheep and development of improved pastures was carried on by his sons and daughters and, particularly, his grandson, A.S.Nivison.

By the 1870s the Nivisons increased and consolidated the holding to about 30,000 acres (12,140 hectares) converting their lease from crown land to freehold as they went (Brayley, 2009).

In Scotland, the Nivisons had a long tradition of participation in the Presbyterian Church as elders and ministers. In New England, Abraham Nivison was instrumental in establishing and supporting the Presbyterian Church. Itinerant ministers visited Walcha from 1845 and the first minister appointed to New England was soon persuaded to move his headquarters from Armidale to Walcha. In 1857 a wooden Presbyterian Church was built and replaced by the existing church, opened in 1888 on land donated by Abraham Nivison, who also gave 500 pound for its construction. It was named St. Mary's after his wife but the name was later changed to St. Paul's.

Abraham Nivison and his wife raised a family of three sons and three daughters at "Ohio". Mary Nivison died in November 1873, but Abraham lived another 20 years and died at "Ohio" on 25 April 1895.

The house then lay empty for some years but about the turn of the century his eldest son, James, who had lived at "The Glen", a few miles up the Ohio creek, moved with his family to Ohio. When Abraham Nivison died his estate was valued for probate at 48,233 pounds.

His eldest son James inherited "Ohio" where he had been born in 1848 and lived until his death there in 1914. He married Mary Perry, grand-daughter of Deputy Surveyor General S.A.Perry in 1878 and they raised a family of eleven children at "Ohio". James Nivison was for many years a magistrate and member of the Armidale Pastures Protection Board. He was a keen sportsman, introducing golf to the district on the "Ohio" links, and his sons formed the "Ohio" Polo team, which completed successfully against northern teams between the wars, with polo carnivals being held regularly at "Ohio".

On "Mirani", part of the old "Ohio" run, pasture improvement experiments from the 1920s led to the introduction of aerial methods to apply fertilizer in February, 1950, with the transformation of pastoral carrying capacity for the tablelands.

"Ohio" remained the centre of family activities until after the death of Mary, in May 1931. The house passed to a grandson of Abraham Nivison, another James Nivison.

Many of Abraham Nivison's descendants, living on subdivisions of the original "Ohio" property, followed in the tradition he established as forerunners of new stock management and breeding programmes. They included F.W.Nivison and his son, J.F.Nivison, both vice presidents of the Royal Agricultural Society of N.S.W. and renowned as expert judges of horses and cattle; A.S.Nivison an innovator in pasture improvement in New England, a leading judge of fine wool Merino sheep and holder, on many occasions, of Australian record prizes for his wool at the Newcastle wool sales; S.N.Nivison, foundation president of the North and North-West Racing Association, member of the Council of the Australian Jockey Club and only country representative on the T.A.B. at its foundations; P.M. Nivison, managing director of Farm Plan, a computer-system company bringing new technological methods to rural management; and Angus Nivison, landscape artist and winner in 1979 of the Herald Art Award.

In 1950 Ohio was taken over by the Church of England, who used it for some years as a boys home and later, as a conference centre. When the Church put it on the market in 1970, it was bought back by the descendants of Abraham Nivison and is now owned by Ohio Homestead Pty Ltd.

These days the Ohio estate is represented on a map by Ohio, "Ohio North", "Yalgoo", "Yalgoolygum", "Mirani", "Marmindi", "Petali" and "Miramoona". Together these subdivisions cover the same area, give or take a few hectares. Ohio and Yalgoolygum represent, for all intents and purposes, lifestyle choices. The family's own historian, Jillian Oppenheimer, lives at Ohio with her husband and fellow author Bruce Mitchell. They were able to buy Ohio back off the Church of England in 1970 and spent several years restoring it into a family home. Essentially it looks very much as it did when it was finally completed in the 1860s (Brayley, 2009).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Farming wheat and other grains-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Clearing land for farming-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Experimenting with new crops and methods-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Experimenting with new breeds of crop plant-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Ancillary structures - wells, cisterns-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Improving agricultural production-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Significant tree(s) providing rural amenity or character-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Gardens and landscapes reminiscent of an 'old country'-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes and countryside of rural charm-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of food production-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Pastoralism-Activities associated with the breeding, raising, processing and distribution of livestock for human use (none)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Housing working animals-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Housing farming families-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Housing for farm and station hands-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Granting Crown lands for private farming-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Developing private towns-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working on pastoral stations-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working with animals-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Landscaping - colonial period-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Building in response to natural landscape features.-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Architectural styles and periods - colonial homestead-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Vernacular structures and building techniques-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Living in a rural homestead-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Living in, adapting and renovating homes for changing conditions-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Living in make-shift accommodation-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Gathering at landmark places to socialise-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Gardening-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Practising Presbyterianism-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Providing schools and education-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Commemorating war losses-

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act

Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
Record converted from HIS events
1. Horticultural and agricultural activities;
2. Maintenance and repair of existing farm fences and provision of underground services.
May 3 1985
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0046302 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0046311 Apr 86 601616
Register of the National Estate  21 Mar 78   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenBrayley, Annabelle2009Keeping it in the family, in 'R.M.Williams Outback' (magazine)
WrittenJillian Oppenheimer1987Vogue Living, October

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

rez
(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045339
File number: S90/04839, FNS90/04839,HC33030


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