Open letter re US Navy laundry

Dear Councillors Dowson and Sullivan,

I am contacting you because of my concern and dismay upon learning of the application by the WA Museum to demolish the conservation laboratory buildings at the Fremantle Arts Centre, particularly the 1943 former US Navy Laundry Building.

The heritage assessment prepared by Irene Sauman and Kelsall Binet Architects establishes beyond a doubt that the former laundry building is a rare remaining example of a structure purpose built and utilised for the US Navy in Fremantle and in Western Australian during World War Two. This is one of the few structures left that represent Fremantle’s hugely important strategic role as a port for the Allied Forces during the War and gives it historic value on a national and international level.

Given this, and as an historian and heritage consultant with a long time interest in and experience with Fremantle’s heritage, I strongly believe that the cultural heritage significance of the former laundry building far outweighs any economic or other considerations which could possibly justify its demolition.

In fact, both the Heritage of Western Australia Act and The Burra Charter; the two major guiding documents for heritage conservation in WA, clearly state that such concerns should not be taken into consideration when it comes to heritage significance and preservation.

Indeed it was on this basis that the City of Fremantle took the politically fearless step of testing the Heritage Minister’s decision not to State Register the CBH Silos at North Quay in 2000. That the court ruled in favour of the City provides further evidence to the validity of the argument for cultural heritage significance and of the precedent set by the City.

Finally, while I understand that the proposed demolition is in line with the WA Museum’s interpretive strategies for the site and fully support the return of the WA Museum to the Fremantle Arts Centre, the unique opportunity that the former laundry building provides as an interpretation site in its own right definitely warrants further deliberations about its retention.

I hope you will take the time to consider the above.

Thank you, Kris Bizzaca.

Kris Bizzaca BA (Hons.) MA MPHA