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Honeywood

The settlement of Honeywood grew on the hills around the Kermandie River in the 1840's; it was later renamed Geeveston after its founding family the Geeves.  The local forests were rich with stringybark, swamp gum, blue gum, blackwood and the famed Huon pine. Not surprisingly the first industry in the area was timber splitting, with shingles and palings an early export.
The opportunity to create a mill on the Kermandie was seen by J.B. Walter, when in the 1840's he used convict labour to dig a channel from the head of the tide water (about quarter of a mile) for the creation of a water powered mill.  Our property is the site of this first mill which was initially used for flour milling.
 
In 1849, Richard Hill purchased the mill and 100 acres of land. He soon converted the mill into a sawmill by adding a frame saw and a circular saw.
This was the first sawmill in the Huon.  It is likely that the Hills built our house, and up to 12 people are said to have lived in it - which is very surprising given its size!  The Hills were a pioneering family running a pottery business, orchards, flour mill, hotel and local store. Richard Hill was also the local returning officer, a JP, first chairman of the Honeywood Road Trust and Franklin Board of Works and a Captain of the Defence Forces.
 
The Hills' association with the property Honeywood ended in the middle of the 20th century.  We have little knowledge of what happened in the decades to the 1960's when we are aware of the property coming into the hand of the Government and Parks staff living here in the 1970's.  It was purchased from the Government by Peter Tree and Tim Ranson in the early 2000's and was purchased by us in 2011.
 
While the previous owners had completed extensive work on the property the house was in sad need of repair.  When we took on the project large parts of the floor had sunk and been destroyed by borer, significant rot was in the walls and the roof was ready to blow off. For a year we worked on the property - restumping, reroofing and repairing.  We were able to save large sections of the old flooring, the blackwood timber ceilings and the hand milled weatherboards. Early photos show the now single storey section of the house had two dormer windows, but there is no sign of any living space in the ceiling now, but there is minor evidence of fire. Thanks to the use of newspaper under floor coverings and wall paper other periods of renovations to the house can be seen in the 1890's, 1929, 1946, 1976 and 1985.
 
Can you help us trace the history of our home - do you know the owners from the later part of the 20th century, was there a fire here, do you have old photographs of the house?  Please view our gallery of past and current photographs.

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Written on 11 October 2015
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