4 out of 4 stars
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Collits' Inn was built nearly 200 years ago by an ex-convict known as Pierce Collits. It was the first inn west of the Blue Mountains, on the road to Bathurst. However, the building and its history were nearly lost. Christine Stewart and her husband, Russell, bought the place in 1998, at which point it was severely rundown and on the brink of collapse, its history forgotten, distorted, or dispersed. They would dedicate the next four years to the building's renovation and restoration, as well as the research, recovery, and collation of its history. This book is Christine’s documentation of their painstaking restoration of Collits' Inn and a record of the establishment's history.
Collits' Inn: Uncovering the Past by Christine Stewart is a journey into the past. The author gave an almost exhaustive account of all their efforts to restore the inn and an analysis of its historical relevance to Australia. While reading this book, it seemed like there was something beyond the physical—a spiritual connection—drawing Christine and her husband to Collits' Inn.
I sometimes wondered why Christine and Russell were so taken by the inn. This couple had no idea about the historical significance of the inn when they initially took on the project. Still, they poured in their finances and contributed countless man-hours—with the cooperation of many other people—to restore its glory. Even how certain events unfolded during the restoration process helped solidify the idea that the project was some sort of higher calling. I also loved that they didn't just restore Collits' Inn but took the time to study its history and importance—the inclusion of this knowledge in the book was well appreciated.
The Stewarts' disposition throughout the restoration process greatly inspired me; their display of patience, wisdom, and perseverance was incredible. They had to make some serious sacrifices to ensure they could finish what they had started. An excellent example of this was how Russell delayed his retirement to ensure they wouldn't have to worry about money while financing the renovation. This rubber-stamped my respect for him.
I found only two grammatical errors in the book, which means it was professionally edited. In any case, these errors didn't spoil my experience in any way—I found nothing negative to note. This book is a valuable compendium of knowledge about the 200-year-old inn and its broader place in Australia's history. I rate it 4 out of 4 stars and recommend it to all history lovers.
Collits' Inn: Uncovering the Past
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