Reynolds Cottage was constructed in 1892 by the Reynolds family, early settlers in Woodend. The house passed from Charlie Reynolds to his daughter Bessie in 1935. Bessie raised three sons here and lived in the house until the early 1990s, when the house was sold out of the family. The cottage was renovated over a period of years and retains almost all of the building fabric that was in the house when it was purchased in 1993.
Charlie Reynolds hired a local builder to construct his house, a simple Victorian cottage, using locally available products. In a town known for its timber milling, blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) was an easily available commodity. Blackwood was used for all of the timber framing in the house. The timber floors throughout the house are butted blackwood timber slabs, except in the kitchen where over the years some of the boards were replaced with other Australian hardwoods.
The internal walls of the cottage were originally covered with scrim and wallpaper. Over time the family updated the cottage with dado boards and lined the upper walls. The linear boards were installed by Bessie’s husband. According to his son, he wanted to minimise the number of saw cuts, so the boards were installed horizontally instead of in the more usual vertical manner. The dado boards in the kitchen were from a Victorian cottage on the opposite side of Owen Street that was demolished to make way for a new house.
The vertical windows in the house date to an older style than that of the house. Sash windows were in use in Melbourne by this time, but the cottage’s windows lack sashes and were (and still are) held up by a stick. Whether the cottage’s windows come from another, older house or were simply what was available and affordable in 1892 is unknown. The kitchen, bathroom and study windows were fixed sheets of glass by the time the house was purchased in 1993. These have been replaced with recycled windows.
The kitchen originally contained just the wood stove and a kitchen sink with timber cabinet. Electricity was limited, with only a single overhead light. Bessie ran her refrigerator off this light. The cabinet was stripped of paint and the sink refixed during renovation. This was then incorporated in the line of new kitchen cupboards, which are made from messmate (a Eucalyptus species), logged from the local forests, now closed to commercial timber harvesting.
The cottage was originally constructed without a bathroom. Over the years the back verandah was enclosed to create the bathroom and back hallway. The bath tub and pedestal basin are original to the house. A toilet was added - prior to this the only toilet was the outside ‘loo’ between the two sheds.
The garden contains many old plants, some of which were probably bought from the State nursery at Macedon. The oldest plants identified are some of the bulbs and the three apple trees on the upper lawn. The terraced beds were created and planted in the early 2000s, a result of the need to move soil which had shifted down the hill to surround the far end of the sheds and which raised the ground level around the house. A large amount of top soil was added to the upper part of the garden at some point. This may have been to redirect a natural spring which was on the property (the spring was diverted to Owen Street or beyond).
The cottage originally had a painted picket fence on High and Owen Street. This was replaced with various fencing materials as the picket fence deteriorated. The picket fence has been replaced along part of High Street and along the Owen Street boundary. Due to the raised ground level in the upper garden, it was not possible to continue the picket fence along this section of High Street.