the 1897 window gallery
The 1897 Window Gallery is a single large window of four panes, in the wall of an old Fremantle house on the corner of Bellevue Terrace and Stevens Street. It is not an art gallery in a conventional sense, and gallery is almost certainly too pretentious a word here - but let it stay. After its early history as a shop window, this re-imagining provides a modest re-connection with the street. Found objects, drawings, poetry, photographs, paintings, installations of diverse nature: all welcomed here. Content may relate to the immediate neighbourhood or be more universal. It aims above all, however, to be a diversion for the passer-by, the pedestrian, the cyclist, and in such it embraces the idea of local community.
The 1897 Window Gallery opened on 23rd July 2016. It is located at 69 Bellevue Terrace, Fremantle.
With a population of perhaps 14,000, Fremantle in the last couple of decades of the 19th century must have felt that it was a town that was going places. The Perth-Fremantle railway opened in 1881, and the Town Hall opened six years later. Gas lighting was being installed in the streets; the first telephone exchange and the town’s water supply all date from this time.
Ten years later, in 1897, C Y O’Connor’s engineering works removed the rock bar at the mouth of the Swan and the inner harbour was built. The Fremantle Markets building opened, and the first public hospital also dates from this year, along with, no doubt, many modest workers’ houses and commercial premises across the town. One of which, in this year of 1897, was a modest building constructed at the junction of what was then called Church Street (later renamed Stevens Street) and Bellevue Terrace.
Shortly after it was built, the building was leased to a grocer, and the premises operated as a shop and attached residence. And so it continued for many decades.
The last reference to it being a shop was in the 1950’s. Its demise as a corner shop is of course echoed across Fremantle and indeed the country. In so doing, these corner buildings lost their raison d’être and often currently sit awkwardly with their past. The large original four-square window near the corner of the building was presumably used as a place to display the wares on offer, or at least to show inside that the building was operating as a shop. We have now re-imagined this ex-shop window as The 1897 Window Gallery.