January 31, 2017
The future of Nanango’s historic Ringsfield House could depend on the results of an upcoming meeting of the Nanango Historical Society.
The February 16 meeting will decide if the not-for-profit association has enough volunteers to keep the doors of the much-loved museum, cafe and function centre open.
The meeting has been called in the wake of the resignation from Ringsfield of society president and former Nanango Shire councillor Ros Gregor, who has been with the society since it was formed to shepherd the future of Ringsfield in the mid-1990s.
“I’m 75 and I think it’s time for more enthusiasm and input from others,” she said.
But no one had come forward yet to take over the role of Ringsfield manager, which was “fairly constant”.
“There’s something happening every day so I have to be at Ringsfield nearly every day,” Ros said.
The Nanango Historical Society has suffered some disappointments recently, including South Burnett Regional Council rejecting its application to shift the former Nanango Masonic Lodge to the site.
Ros said Council – which owns Ringsfield and the reserve land it is built on – initially knocked back approval, then looked set to approve it in a new location, which required another application, but this, too, was eventually refused.
Another problem for the society is the profitability of the cafe, which has only made a monthly profit twice during the past 12 months.
Ros said if there were more volunteers available to help in the cafe, especially at weekends, this would help a lot.
The society is also responsible for the gardens around the buildings and maintenance of the adjoining Council flats, all of which requires volunteers.
The February meeting will discuss whether the society wants to continue running Ringsfield.
An option would be for them to give it up and start meeting at the old Masonic Lodge building in Gipps Street and concentrate on recording Nanango’s written history.
“The members of the Historical Society may want to continue (at Ringsfield) but I can’t see it happening as the members of the management committee all want to retire as well,” Ros said.
If this happened, Ros said she expected Council would either call for Expressions Of Interest to take over the operation of Ringsfield, put a manager in, or just leave it.
“Everyone loves Ringsfield, everyone in Nanango,” Ros said. “I certainly don’t want to see it fail.”
Extracts from the Ringsfield House website:
Ringsfield was built in 1908 by Robin Dods, a popular architect from the era.
It was commissioned by Mr and Mrs Graham as a 14-room villa. Mr Graham died in 1912 and Mrs Graham became Mrs Sullivan when she remarried in 1922. Ringsfield was her home until 1942.
The home was opened in August 1942 as the Ringsfield Maternity Hospital and George Arnold Wolski was the first of more than 3000 babies born there.
The hospital closed in 1969. Ringsfield’s third “life” as a women’s refuge began in 1973.
Since 1995, this iconic building has been managed by the Nanango Historical Society Inc.
Many countless volunteer hours have gone into restoring and building an historical precinct with several buildings relocated to the grounds, including Nanango’s oldest surviving building, the State School, built in 1866. Nanango’s original Presbyterian Church has also been relocated.
“A town without its history is a town without its soul.”
[UPDATED with clarification]