Pierce, Arthur

Arthur Ernest Pierce, born in Newtown, Sydney, in 1889, and his wife Lillian Martha (née Woodham), came to Cheltenham in 1914. They had been living near the sea at Rockdale and Lillian was losing her hearing from continual head colds, the climate being blamed to this. Once in Cheltenham her health improved and she remained well. Ernest and Lillian had two daughters, Esma (born 1911) and Lorna (born 1912). Ernest was an optician and had offices in Elizabeth Street, Sydney.

It was the Pierces intention to build a home on the eastern side of the railway line in Cheltenham where William Chorley had planned a subdivision of his large property. The council would not pass the plans and no building began there for another ten years. The Pierces leased a house in The Crescent opposite Cheltenham station until 1917 when Ernest purchased No. 37 Cheltenham Road. This house, with verandas on front and side, had not long been built and was on four blocks of land. Ernest was a keen gardener and grew vegetables, many varieties of flowers and fruit trees. A gardener came in one day a week. A tennis court was laid alongside the house. Lilianfels was the name they gave to their new home, both for Lillian’s name and for the gracious old house in Katoomba which they admired when they holidayed there. When Esma and Lorna were about six and five years old they began attending the small school run by Mrs Mansfield and the two Misses Jones in the cottage on the corner of Cheltenham Road and Boronia Avenue. About 20 pupils, boys and girls, attended the classes which ran to third-grade. For singing classes, Miss Jones played her piano in the front parlour and the children stood on the lawn outside the window and sang.

Ernest Pierce had been a member of a Masonic Lodge since 1908 and became a Master in 1914 just prior to moving to Cheltenham. In the new suburb he was approached by a delegation asking if he would be foundation Master of a proposed Lodge at Beecroft. This he agreed to and meetings of Lodge Beecroft began with 36 members in the Beecroft Presbyterian Church Hall. To conform to the strict Masonic rules of secrecy guards had to be placed at all the windows. When it was apparent that people outside could hear Lodge business, alterations were made to window fittings.

Membership increased to 63 by the end of the first year and a permanent Hall (Temple) was planned on Beecroft Rd. The block of land was purchased for £100; architect Frank Buckle, a member, drew up the plans and Frederick Mason, also a member, built the Hall.

Ernest died in 1961 and Lillian Pierce in 1964, both at Cheltenham.[1]

 [1] Information from Mrs Esma Rae and Mrs Lorna Fennell of Cheltenham.