Ongoing Exhibition: Museum Building
In 1875 Abraham Emmott built a pair of semi-detached 2-story terrace homes at 85-87 Campbell St Moruya. Number 85 now houses the Moruya Museum, number 87 is a cafe. The homes used a standard North of England design, covered verandahs were added to keep out the hot Australian sun. The bricks were made by hand locally, and now show their age and the lack of firing in their making.
An immigrant from Yorkshire, Emmott reached Moruya in 1859 and set up a general store on the verandah of his first home. From there he moved to his new Beehive Store in Vulcan Street, and the name of “Emmott’s” held good for over a century. Stepping out from his bedroom to the verandah of number 85, Abraham could see what was happening down Vulcan street at his Beehive Store, where Harris Scarfe is today.
Number 87 was occupied by Abraham’s son, John, who was famously robbed when returning home from the Gulph diggings at Nerrigundah. He was bailed up by the notorious Clarke gang who shot him as he tried to escape, and, as he lay wounded, robbed him of the money and gold he was carrying.
In 1976, the Moruya & District Historical Society purchased 85 Campbell St after a period of renting. In 1979 the NSW Heritage Council issued a preservation order on the building, recognising its unique architectural qualities and largely unaltered exterior. The building identifies the earliest business/residential precinct in Moruya and survives as evidence of one of the earliest successful business families in the region.
The Moruya Museum now occupies Abraham’s living quarters at 85 Campbell St. The formal parlour and dining room on the ground floor are now used for special exhibitions. Behind them is the kitchen with its wood-fired stove, and the laundry with its copper and mangle. A narrow entrance hall and stairs lead to the Remembrance Room a permanent exhbition of wartime stories and objects. In 1988 the available space to the rear of the building was extended substantially to include a dedicated Research Library. In 1995 the Rotary Room and a machinery shed were built. In 2010 the heritage-listed Stonemason’s Lathe was installed in an outdoor exhibit in the grounds next to the Emmott House.