Lyons Cottage was the early home of the Honourable Joseph Aloysius (Joe) Lyons. Lyons was Premier of Tasmania between 1921 and 1928. He went on to become the only Tasmanian Prime Minister ever elected, between 1932 and 1939. Lyons Cottage is where he spent the first few years of his life. It contains a number of antiques, historical photographs and information on the Lyons family.
Lyons Cottage is significant on a number of levels. While it is important simply due to its association with Joe Lyons, it can also be considered of significance in relation to its humble appearance. It implies that anyone in Australia, regardless of their background, can be elected to the highest office in the country if they have the ability. On another level completely, the cottage demonstrates the characteristics of a single storey, weatherboard Victorian Georgian dwelling.
The cottage itself seems to have originally been part of an allotment that included an adjacent hotel property. The hotel was built by Joe’s father, Michael Lyons, in 1849. He sold the hotel in 1854 but retained the lot where the cottage now stands. It is not known exactly when the cottage was built but it was certainly constructed before 1870 as it appears in a photograph taken in that year. The cottage is just one storey and, when first built, would have only had four rooms – two at the front, one more and a kitchen at the rear. It was also constructed fairly cheaply – from plain timber on the exterior, and with interior paling boards rather than more expensive lath and plaster.
It really is quite a modest dwelling, even for the time. Renovations most likely took place during the early twentieth century, and additional rooms have been added to the rear at some point. It was acquired by Parks and Wildlife (PWS) in 1976 and, at that time, was in a fairly poor state of repair. In 1979 PWS undertook repairs of the building in order to retain the original and humble appearance of the home, similar to how it looked when Joe Lyons was born in 1879.