Saturday, May 17, 2014

Same place, different time

It is relatively rare, I think, to be able to categorically identify the building or spot and ancestor was 150 years ago and to have been in that same spot. In the context of genealogy, the most likely building is a church, from a baptism or marriage (or, technically, a funeral), and of course graves that those before us mourned over and visited also. But unless the family home has been held continuously, homes and other venues are not often identifiable, and of course in most cases demolished. More generally, walked the streets of a city or suburb you know you walk the same streets, but specific places are difficult to pin down.

That is why I enjoyed finding this account of a concert organized in Sydney by my ancestor Sebastian Hodge:

Sydney Morning Herald
19 June 1869

Sydney Morning Herald
6 July 1869

Mr. SEBASTIAN HODGE'S CONCERT.-Mr. Sebastian Hodge's concert came off with great eclat last night, at the School of Arts, Pitt-street. The reserved seats were well filled, and there was a fair attendance in the body of the hall, although, having regard to tho high repute in which Mr. Hodge is deservedly held, as well for his ability as a musician, as for the readiness with which he has heartily
exercised his talent in the furtherance of philanthropic and kindred objects - it might fairly have been expected that he would have been met, not simply by an appreciative but by a crowded audience. In addition to his services in the band, Mr. Hodge played the clarionet obligate in the aria "Gratias Agenius," sung by Miss Kosten, and in the song " Bid me discourse," rendered by Miss Wiseman......

There seem to be a number of other examples. The nice thing about the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts is that the building was photographer during the late 1860s, and the photo is held the by State Library of New South Wales as part of a collection of photographs gathered by Lieutenant-Colonel William Cosmo Trevor, commander of the 2nd Battalion 14th Regiment. The 14th was in Sydney from Mar 1869 - Mar 1870 and it is possible this photo was taken around that time:
School of Arts, Sydney
(SLNSW, PXA 974)

The building had potted plants outside the upper window, and a dog appears to be waiting at the fron entrance. I wish the placard at the front door was legible. There are two lamp-posts outside the main door - the only that can be discerned in the picture.

What I really like about this building is that it still stands, almost 150 years later. It is no longer operated by the Sydney Mechanic's School of Arts, as as one might expect is operated as a bar but does hold a range of cultural events also. The fact the building still stands is amazing. And so I appreciate that I've been to the building, stood on its stone steps, and walked around inside on its timber floors, just like Sebastian Hodge did so long ago.

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