Wollongong's oldest house, Keera Vale, has been sold to buyers committed to restoring the crumbling building to its former glory.
Wollongong Public School principal Harold Cosier and partner Jenny Dixon plan to spend the next five years on what many would see as a daunting project.
"It's been a bit of a struggle getting finance because banks don't seem to like old buildings, but now we're to this point it's all very exciting," Mr Cosier said yesterday.
The once-grand Georgian house in Bukari Street, West Wollongong, was built in 1843 for Judge Roger Therry, a barrister from County Cork who was attorney-general, sitting in the NSW Legislative Council from 1841 to 1843.
President of the Illawarra Historical Society, Carol Herben, said the sale was a victory for the city.
"It's a landmark building with huge significance and it's been very sad to see it deteriorate over the years," Mrs Herben said.
National Trust Illawarra-Shoalhaven branch chair Meredith Hutton was overjoyed.
"Properties of this age and style are disappearing through neglect so we welcome restoration plans."
The house had been on the market for more than a year.
The selling price has been withheld but is understood to be close to the median sale price for the area.
The house was originally on 143.7 hectares of land.
It had French doors leading on to an upper verandah which wrapped around three sides of the house, which have been lost over time.
Mr Cosier said the restoration would be based on plans supplied by both heritage authorities and Wollongong City Council.
"The aim is to get it back to how it looked externally to when Judge Therry occupied it," Mr Cosier said.
"It will be our family home so the interior, which Jen will focus on because she has terrific vision, will have to be slightly adapted to the 21st century," he said.
The pair take over on January 14.
"We'll initially occupy the second floor because the ground floor needs a lot of work," Mr Cosier said.
He said the delay in finance was stressful.
"It was a bit of a worry because it was getting to the point where it would have been very hard to pull the building back from the edge," Mr Cosier said.