Above: Noumea in Prince Street Paterson.
"Noumea" in Prince Street is thought to be the oldest building in Paterson but knowledge of its early history is sketchy. It was possibly built about the time the village of Paterson was planned by the Government in 1833, as maps of the adjoing land grant show a building in this location.
Noumea stands on land that was originally part of the Bona Vista estate granted to James Phillips in 1822. We believe James Phillips originally erected Noumea as a store, and with later additions it became a residence where one of this sons lived for many years.
In 1840 Phillips subdivided 100 allotments from the north east portion of his Bona Vista estate and they now form the southern part of the village of Paterson. Noumea was part of this subdivision. As far as we know, the name 'Noumea' has no particular significance in the lives of its owners. It was possibly just a house sign purchased from a travelling salesman.
Noumea was used as Paterson's Post Office prior to the amalgamation of the separate Post and Telegraph Offices in 1875 (see 1876 map of Paterson). William Phillips became Paterson's Postmaster in 1835 so Noumea may have doubled as a Post Office from as early as then.
Pauline Clements takes up the story of Noumea:
Stories are told, although none can be substantiated, that the cottage was used as a police station at some time, and as a school, and this last story, at least can be vouched for.
In the Maitland Mercury of Wednesday 13th July 1932, a wellknown Paterson identity, Mr John Tucker in an article recalling 'how Paterson used to be' told of his school days when he attended lessons in the old school house in Prince Street, Paterson. His memories went back to 1858, when as a small boy he was taught reading and writing, and played in the school yard with his young friends.
He particularly remembered a rose bush growing near the wall of the building from where the children picked many flowers. He recalled the old eucalyptus tree growing near the school, almost in the centre of the road, where the children watched the native bears (koalas) at play. Mr Tucker lamented the fact that (in 1932) all this was gone ... except for the old house. [This was a private school].
Noumea was renovated in the late 1990s and is now a Bed and Breakfast establishment.
Clements, Pauline. Museum News vol.5 no.1, 1998. Paterson Historical Society.