A house at the heart of its community
Tresca was one of the first and largest homes to be built in the West Tamar district, built between 1909 and 1911 by Mrs Francis Reed and her son Eric, who established an orchard and farm on the site. Tresca became an important meeting place for groups such as the Masonic Lodge and the Country Women's Association, the local drama club and music society. The golf club was privately owned with play by invitation only. Mr Reed later became Manager of the West Tamar Co-Operative Society of Exeter, dealing with the export and marketing of the fruit grown in the area. The Reed family sold the property in 1951 to Mr & Mrs Joseph A Gibson.
After World War II, Tresca was purchased by the Department of Education from the Gibson family, with some of the land leased to the Golf Club and the Area School Farm established on the remainder.
Tresca', 1958, courtesy of the National Archives of Australia
Photos courtesy of the
National Archives of Australia
In 1957, the Fairbridge Society acquired Tresca and established it as a Fairbridge centre for child migrants from the United Kingdom. Harry and Lily Richmond were appointed as House Parents, and the first five boys arrived at the house in 1958, after its official opening in March by the Governor of Tasmania, Sir Ronald Cross.
Fairbridge was the first organisation of its kind to house boys and girls together, and supported the formation of the first Child Care Association in Tasmania. A number of children coming to the home were orphans, while others were from one-parent families who had migrated to Tasmania. Almost one hundred children lived at Tresca over the years, attending the local Exeter Primary and High Schools, with some going on to University.
During the twenty years that the Fairbridge Society ran Tresca, effort was made to continue the tradition established by the original owners of offering the house as a meeting point for local organisations. The Guides, Scouts, Rotary, Church groups, Interact, Exeter Golf Club, the Masonic Lodge and Inner Wheel all met here and the first Carols by Candlelight at Exeter was held on the veranda.
After a short period during which it was unused, the Adult Education Board assumed responsibility for Tresca, and used it as a central location for classes. The Mid-West Tamar Committee was commissioned to develop it as a community facility.
In 1979 a Tresca Management Committee was formed from representatives of the groups who used the property, Adult Education, Services clubs, the Pleasure for Leisure Committee and Friends of Tresca, together they organised the day to day affairs and general upkeep and planned long term activities. Tresca Community Centre as we know it was eventually established in 1991. Since then, it has won various awards, among them 'Outstanding Provider' awarded by Adult Education in 1997.
Today Tresca is owned by the West Tamar Council, who lease it to the Tresca Community Centre Committee Inc. This voluntary committee secures funding and sets goals and policies. A manager oversees the day to day running of the centre, assisted by a number of dedicated volunteers and staff.
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