The Community Heritage Grant program supports local groups to access professional cultural heritage expertise. It provides funding for community organisations to understand the meaning and value of their collections and undertake conservation activities.

Miss Porter’s House is a National Trust (NSW) house museum, located in the heart of Newcastle, NSW, with a rich collection reflecting domestic life in the pre-1950s era. The house, built by Herbert Porter, was located behind the family business and was occupied by the Porter family from 1910 to 1997.  From 1919 onwards, after Herbert died during the influenza epidemic, the occupants of the house were all women – Herbert’s wife Florence and their two daughters, Ella and Hazel. The only National Trust property in Newcastle, Miss Porter’s House, and all its contents, was bequeathed to the Trust by Miss Hazel Porter and is now cared for by a volunteer Management Committee of the National Trust. 

Both sides of an old postcard. One side shows an illustration of three children crossing a river, while the other has the inscription 'To Ella from Dad Give Mum a kiss for me Dad'.
Postcard from Herbert Porter, circa 1911-1914, to daughter Ella Porter.  Inscription reads “To Ella from Dad. Give Mum a kiss for me. Dad” .

The collection reflects the lifestyle of the Porter women and how they managed to live in frugal comfort because of their hard work and good management.  The textile and crafts – including fine examples of dressmaking, knitting, embroidery and stencilled fabric – are highly significant and testify to the skill and creativity of the Porter family. The documentary heritage provides evidence of meticulous record keeping from family history to household management and to records of the pastimes the family enjoyed. 

Old purple and patterned parasol
Parasol, pre-1920s, owned by Hazel Porter.  

Community Heritage Grants supported this mainly volunteer-managed organisation to undertake two important projects – a significance assessment, completed in 2021, and a preservation needs assessment, which is currently underway.  The significance assessment has already proven to be extremely useful. 

All of our volunteers were very excited about the opportunity the grant provided for the house and its contents to be assessed by an external expert. We arranged for a welcome dinner for the consultants on their first night in Newcastle. This was a great way to meet each other and to talk informally about the assessment process and to give an overview of the house and some of the stories of the Porter family. Importantly, this was also an opportunity for the volunteers to be able to talk of their involvement with the house, in some cases over many years.  

The assessment process was conducted over 2 days with different volunteers involved… We knew that Miss Porter’s House was special in many ways but the feedback [from the significance assessment] was even more exciting than we had hoped.  

Learn more about Community Heritage Grants, including how to apply, here.  

Photograph of three women, with sewing and knitting tools.
Photograph of Florence, Ella and Hazel Porter, circa late 1940s, with sewing and knitting tools, including a wooden darning egg.