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News > Arden Now > From the Archives - Cook House

From the Archives - Cook House

Historic Cook House at our Junior Campus has an interesting history

18 Mar 2021
Australia
Arden Now

Arden Anglican School purchased Cook House (63 Beecroft Road) in June 1994. As one of Beecroft’s historic homes, the house however has a much longer history.

Early in 1909, Dr Mark Lidwell purchased a double block on Beecroft Road. His brother-in-law and famous Sydney architect, George Sydney Jones, was selected to design the new family home, which was to include a surgery, dispensary and waiting room. By September, The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate reported:

             “Dr Lidwell is removing this month into his new residence on the main Beecroft Road. It is altogether a new class of building, being of Moorish style of architecture, with a flat roof, upon which an assortment of pot plants will impart the appearance of a garden there. The ornamental coloured glass windows are without doubt the finest the writer has ever seen; upon them growing palms are most artistically represented with birds flying above. This has been achieved by what is known as ‘lead work’. The building cost, it is said, above £3 000. From the roof the outlook is extensive, including an excellent view of Botany Bay.”

The large, two storey, brick house became known as Lorne. The professional rooms, along with the kitchen and an open planned dining room, drawing room and verandah were downstairs whilst the four bedrooms, maids’ quarters and bathroom were upstairs. Decorative features such as ornate plaster ceilings, marble and oak fire places, tiled hearths and intricate woodwork filled the interior. The stuccoed exterior featured semicircles of coloured tiles above the windows, with a parapet running around the roof. The stables were constructed in the same style.

When Dr Lidwell left the district in 1910, Lorne was put up for sale. The property was sold several more times before finally being purchased by Dr Errol Cook in 1936. It was Dr Cook’s son who sold the property to Arden. Arden and the Cook family have long been connected. Two generations of the family attended the School and Miss Hudson, a former Headmistress, rented the flat above the stables soon after her arrival in 1966. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Cook family generously allowed Arden students to use their tennis court and swimming pool for Sport lessons.

Over the years, the house has undergone minor changes. The verandahs are now walled in and the roof top garden has long since been removed. The land was eventually subdivided, with Arden House being constructed on the site of the original tennis court. Many of the internal decorative features are however still evident.

Lorne was renamed Cook House after it was purchased by the School. Initially, the ground floor housed Reception, sick bay, a resource teacher’s room, staff room and two music studios. Upstairs housed the Principal’s office, administration and finance offices and a meeting room. Cook House is now a dedicated space for staff meetings and lunch on the ground floor and the Advancement Team offices upstairs.  In late 2021, the central room on the upper level will become the Arden Heritage Centre, in preparation for the School’s Centenary celebrations in 2022. 

Do you have memories or memorabilia relating to Cook House? As Arden’s Centenary approaches in 2022, the Archives welcomes donations of relevant memorabilia and reminisces from members of our School Community. This includes contemporary items as these will become tomorrow’s history. If you feel you have something that may be of interest, the Archives would appreciate hearing from you. Please get in touch by email: archives@arden.nsw.edu.au

Photo courtesy of the Cook Family.

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