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The Society was established in 1988 as a non-profit association by a group of people inspired by the need to commemorate and promote a better understanding of the lives, ideals, vision  and works of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin. It brings together people living in the communities the Griffins helped to create, scholars, architects, urban planners and members of the general public interested in the Griffin legacy.

Aims and objectives

to commemorate and promote a better understanding in Australia and internationally of the lives, ideals, vision and works of the Griffins;
to promote the preservation and conservation of landscape designs, buildings and other works designed by or having an association with the Griffins;
to establish a collection of archival material, books, photographs, audio-visual materials, architectural drawings, photographs and objects relating to the Griffins;
to conserve, house and display the collection for the education and enjoyment of the general public;
to support research into the lives and works of the Griffins and offer a research service to scholars, media and interested persons;
to raise funds for the above purposes.

Walter Burley Griffin Society Inc. tour of Canberra 1998 led by Professor James Weirick in the Western Red Cedar forest planted by Walter Burley Griffin

Activities

The Society has several hundred members from various parts of Australia and USA. In 2004 the Society set up the Canberra Chapter and currently has plans for a Melbourne Chapter. The Society was the inspiration for the founding of the Walter Burley Griffin Society of America Inc in 1998 and since then has established a good working relationship with its sister organisation.

The Society produces a newsletter at least twice a year and organises lectures, symposia, guided walks, tours and open house days, and is active in many spheres of environmental and heritage conservation throughout Australia. The Society’s activities, particularly the symposia and lectures, focus on various aspects of the Griffins’ work in Australia and internationally.

Since 1988, the work of the Society has been recognised by the awarding of four government grants, one Willoughby City Council grant and four National Trust of Australia Heritage Awards.

Achievements

  • 1990—the Society received a dollar for dollar grant from the NSW Department of Planning to publish a book on Castlecrag;
  • 1991—Max Dupain donated over 100 exhibition photographs of the Griffins’ work to the Society;
  • 1992—the Committee successfully convinced the Sydney City Council (following the tragic demolition of the Pyrmont Incinerator) that funding should be made to the Powerhouse Museum to stage an exhibition of the Griffins’ work;
  • 1993—the Society with Willoughby Environmental Protection Association and Willoughby Historical Society organised a seminar titled Willoughby’s Heritage Future with speakers Dr Judy Messer, Dr Val Attenbrow, Ms Muriel Ryan, Professor James Weirick and Mr David Logan;
  • 1993—the Society was instrumental in getting the Historic Houses Trust of NSW to purchase the Griffin house GSDA No.1 Dwelling at Castlecrag, Sydney for the purpose of restoration;
  • 1994—the book published by the Society, Building for Nature: Walter Burley Griffin and Castlecrag was launched by the NSW Minister for the Arts, the Hon Peter Collins;
  • 995—the National Trust gave a Heritage Award to the Society for its book;
  • 1995—the  Society organised The Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin Festival open day of five Griffin houses and an exhibition of the Max Dupain photographs to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Griffins’ Castlecrag Estate, which was attended by over 400 people;
  • 1998—the Society organised an open day titled The Griffins’ Castlecrag Today attended by over 500 people;
  • 1999—the Society and Willoughby City Council were awarded a Federation Grant by the Australian Government to create a walking track linking the Griffin Conservation Area of Castlecrag with the Willoughby Incinerator;
  • 2001—the Society organised the official opening of the Griffin Federation Track by the Mayor, Cr Pat Reilly and the federal member of parliament, the Hon Joe Hockey;
  • 2002—the Society was awarded a dollar for dollar grant by the NSW Heritage Office to produce a brochure promoting the heritage significance of the Griffin Conservation Area and Willoughby City Council’s heritage controls, to assist in preserving the Griffin heritage;
  • 2003—the Society organized a heritage festival in Castlecrag, Sydney with information stalls from seven other heritage organizations and guided walks of the Griffin Conservation Area to celebrate Heritage Week;
  • 2004—the NSW Heritage Office brochure titled The Griffin Legacy: Castlecrag Heritage was published;
  • 2005—the Society was awarded a National Trust heritage award for the brochure The Griffin Legacy: Castlecrag Heritage;
  • 2005—the Society was awarded a Sharing Australia’s Stories grant by the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Heritage. One of 22 recipients from over 950 applications;
    In addition the society has organized guided bus tours of Canberra and of Griffin buildings in Sydney, numerous guided walking tours of Castlecrag, and many guest speakers including heritage architects, visiting academics and Griffin scholars.

National Trust presentation of a heritage award to the Walter Burley Griffin Society Inc. in 1995 for the book Building for Nature: Walter Burley Griffin and Castlecrag. This book was produced by the Society with the assistance of a grant from the NSW Heritage Office

Comittee

Patron
John McInerney
Architect and Urban Planner
Millers Point

President
Akky Van Ogtrop
Art Historian and Curator
St Ives

Vice President
Michael Thomson
Visual Arts Teacher
Concord

Secretary
Kerry McKillop
Griffin home owner
Castlecrag

Treasurer
John Kabos
Business Lawyer
Sydney

Committee
Adrienne Kabos
Designer
Castlecrag

Glenda Korporaal
Journalist
Rose Bay

Kerry Lee
Holgate

Margaret Petrykowski
Architect and Urban Planner
North Sydney

James Smallhorn
Landscape Architect
Parramatta

Canberra Chapter Chair
Brett Odgers
Swinger Hill, Canberra

WBGS of America President
Peter Burley Griffin
PresidentWalter Burley Griffin Society of America
St Louis, USA

The Society’s Patron John McInerney (centre), President Akky Van Ogtrop and Vice President Michael Thomson at right with Dr Anne Watson at far left and architect Carolyn Pidcock at the National Trust Heritage Awards 2016. Photographer Jonathon May

Author

The Society is indebted to Anne Watson, editor of Beyond Architecture: Marion Mahony and Walter Burley Griffin in America, Australia and India.  Sydney, Powerhouse Publishing, 1998, and to research by Peter Navaretti, Dr Jeff Turnbull and Robert F McKillop.

Further reading

The Society is indebted to Anne Watson, editor of Beyond Architecture: Marion Mahony and Walter Burley Griffin in America, Australia and India.  Sydney, Powerhouse Publishing, 1998, and to research by Peter Navaretti, Dr Jeff Turnbull and Robert F McKillop.