Edith Cowan’s original home was built in Malcolm Street, West Perth in the 1890s. Edith lived there for about twenty years until her death in 1932. It was also the childhood home of Peter Cowan. The house was scheduled for demolition in September 1991, when local resident Audrey Hines lobbied politicians to preserve the historic building. Edith Cowan University mounted a last-minute rescue and purchased the building. It was photographed, videoed and designs were drawn up before it was dismantled and transported to Armadale for storage.
Edith Cowan University decided to re-build Edith Cowan House at the university’s Joondalup campus due to its potential to become the primary campus, and as the house provided a link to the university’s namesake, Edith Cowan. A setting was chosen nestled in a grove of pine trees overlooking the lake in the centre of the campus. It was originally intended to simply rebuild the 100-year-old house but university architect, Mike Donald, decided that damage, due to age and termites, would prevent this.
In 1996, construction of a replica of the house began. Building students from North Metropolitan TAFE carried out the project and included as many of the original components as possible; such as doors, door frames, mantle pieces, floor boards and window features in the re-building process. The exterior was painted to reflect the style and colours of the period, giving it an ‘old world charm’. The City of Wanneroo also contributed funding for furniture and fittings. The house was completed in early 1998 with Edith Cowan University setting aside rooms for the Peter Cowan Writers’ Centre Inc.
On 18th May, 1998 at 2.30pm, Edith Cowan’s refurbished weatherboard home was dedicated as the Peter Cowan Writers’ Centre Inc in a special opening ceremony conducted by Tom Hungerford and Pat Jacobs. Peter Cowan, aged 84, attended the ceremony and commented that his grandmother would have approved. Peter Cowan Writers’ Centre Inc was the first writing centre to be established on a university campus in Western Australia.