Tamworth magnate Tony Haggarty to update historic century-old Glen Innes convent

HERITAGE FEEL: Tony Haggarty (right) said his plans to update Glen Innes' St Joseph's Seminary will maintain the building's century-old exterior. Pictured with son Simon and wife Sarah Haggarty in 2016. Photo: Gareth Gardner
HERITAGE FEEL: Tony Haggarty (right) said his plans to update Glen Innes' St Joseph's Seminary will maintain the building's century-old exterior. Pictured with son Simon and wife Sarah Haggarty in 2016. Photo: Gareth Gardner

Tamworth business owner Tony Haggarty is planning on turning Glen Innes' century-old convent into the region's newest bed and breakfast.

Mr Haggarty, a former miner who has appeared on lists of Australia's richest people,recently won approval to restore the local historic building.

The iconic dark brown brick St Joseph's Convent, which stands near the corner of the New England and Gwydir Highways, will be converted into a 30-bed luxury bed and breakfast.

HISTORIC: The convent, which dates to 1916, sits at the corner of the New England Highway (called Church Street) and the Gwydir Highway in Glen Innes. Photo: Craig Thomson

HISTORIC: The convent, which dates to 1916, sits at the corner of the New England Highway (called Church Street) and the Gwydir Highway in Glen Innes. Photo: Craig Thomson

He said the 1916 convent is a beautiful old building, which will give it a point of difference from other accommodation in the region.

"That's what attracted us to buy it; it is a lovely building and it was derelict, virtually. So it needs a new life," he said.

The renovation will preserve the exterior of the building unchanged, modernise the toilets and other amenities and won't require builders to gut the internals.

The new business will also have space to be used for events and weddings.

Mr Haggarty said the Glen Innes community had so far welcomed the new business.

"So far very much so. The council and the local people I've spoken to about it, from day one have been very supportive and very keen to see something done. I think it's the logical purpose for it, I don't really see what else it could be used for, it's suited for that purpose."

The Goonoo Goonoo Station's Glasshouse restaurant won an architecture award in 2017. Photo: Brett Boardman

The Goonoo Goonoo Station's Glasshouse restaurant won an architecture award in 2017. Photo: Brett Boardman

The building had been previously used as low-cost accommodation.

In 2015 an earlier owner offered the bed and breakfast for refugee accommodation.

Tony Haggarty, a former director of Whitehaven Coal, spent millions refurbishing the historic heritage-listed Goonoo Goonoo Station outside Tamworth.

Goonoo Goonoo Station's contemporary Glasshouse restaurant won the a prize at the 2017 NSW Architecture Awards in Sydney after taking home the Sir Arthur G. Stephenson Award for Commercial Architecture and the Blacket Prize for the best regional project.

The restaurant was also a finalist in the World Architecture Festival Awards, one of 17 shortlisted at the international competition in 2017.

The planned update of the historic convent has been signed off by Glen Innes Severn Council and construction will likely start later this year.

Built in 1916 it was initially used as a convent for the Glen Innes Catholic School, housing students from out of town under the watchful eye of the nuns of St Joseph's.