Two of Katoomba's historic buildings need urgent attention

The 101-year-old Paragon Cafe and the landmark Renaissance Centre in Katoomba are falling to bits, Cr Don McGregor has warned.

Cr McGregor, who spent 30 years in the construction industry, said it was disturbing to see the two magnificent buildings deteriorating because of a lack of maintenance.

Councillor Don McGregor outside the rapidly deteriorating old Mount St Mary's Convent at Katoomba, most recently (1990s) the Renaissance Centre.

Councillor Don McGregor outside the rapidly deteriorating old Mount St Mary's Convent at Katoomba, most recently (1990s) the Renaissance Centre.

“We’re concerned about the ongoing decline in the buildings,” Cr McGregor said. “They’re both state heritage listed. We’ve got to stem the rot because it’s going on apace.”

He said there was seepage into the walls of the Paragon which smelt like sewerage. It was threatening the fabric of the interior.

The Paragon turned 100 last year and is showing severe signs of age that is even beyond general maintenance, according to the cafe’s owner, Robyn Parker.

“Everything in that building is 90 years old and the conservation cost to keep it is prohibitive. I think at some point there has to be a community discussion about whether we need to keep it and, if so, there needs to be community investment in it.

“At some point it’s going to need help and if it’s not done soon it’s going to be beyond the point of no return.”

The Renaissance Centre, at nearly 117 years old, started life in the early years of last century as Mount St Mary’s Convent school and has undergone several incarnations in between.

It is also on the NSW Heritage Register but had been empty for some years.

It was a school from 1910 until 1974. In the 1980s it was converted into the Renaissance creative arts centre, but has been vacant since the 1990s.

It sold in February 2014 but it is not known what plans the owners have for the property.

Cr McGregor successfully moved a motion at the November meeting that council write to the heritage division of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage expressing its concerns about both buildings and asking that the owners be reminded about their maintenance responsibilities as owners of state-listed heritage items.

  • There will be a reunion of former students of the school on March 24 next year. For details see Mount St Marys College & Convent Katoomba Facebook page.