WHO AM I?
The short version
Hi there! My name is Marianne Taylor and I am an architectural historian, but that sounds a bit stuffy, so I call myself The House Detective. I research the history of houses for people and I absolutely love what I do! I'm also a massive history nerd in general and let's face it, I'd probably hang out in archives for fun, even if I wasn't getting paid for it.
Here's a quick summary of my qualifications and experience:
- Graduate Diploma in Local, Family and Applied History from University of New England
- Bachelor of Science with Honours from Griffith University
- Over 15 years experience as an historian, primarily focussed on architectural history
- Over 12 years experience in the heritage industry, including 3 years as Heritage Strategist with Queensland Rail and 3 years as Senior Heritage Officer with the QLD Government
- 2019: Silver Award, National Trust Queensland Heritage Awards, for the Kuranda Railway Station Conservation Management Plan (I researched and wrote the background history section).
- 2015/2016: Helen Taylor Research Award for my Brisbane Retro project, researching and documenting Brisbane's post-war houses
When I'm not researching houses or hanging out in archives, you will find me:
- Watching history documentaries (hey, I told you I was a tragic history nerd!)
- Watching period dramas (my favourite is Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South, followed closely by BBC's Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth as Darcy and THAT wet shirt scene- ladies I know you're with me!)
- Reading books, buying books, categorising my books, researching new books to buy, creating wish lists of books I want to buy, convincing myself that just because I haven't read all the books I have, it doesn't mean I can't buy new books
- Trawling through real estate websites looking for cool old houses or retro pads
- Watching classic old movies and tragic 80s/90s movies
- Camping and four wheel driving and exploring this awesome country of ours!
The long version
But how did I become The House Detective? Well it was a long and winding road, let me tell you!!
When I was in high school, all I ever wanted to be was a Forensic Scientist. The investigation and detective aspect of this career in particular really interested me. So off I went to study a Bachelor of Science at university in Brisbane, in preparation to undertake post-graduate studies in forensics. Somewhere along the line, I realised I would actually have to join the police to do exactly what I wanted, which didn’t appeal to me at all. I finished my degree then did honours so I had a better chance of getting a job. However, after spending many years working in tedious chemistry lab positions that a monkey could do, I began to yearn for work that I enjoyed and was passionate about.
Throughout my scientist years, I had always been interested in heritage and history and had volunteered at various museums and with the National Trust and Royal Historical Society of QLD. When I decided I wanted to pursue it as a full time career, I did a Graduate Diploma of Local, Family and Applied History through the University of New England at Armidale (this degree is still available by the way!). Although it was a history based degree, you could select subjects in many areas to specialise in. I chose heritage conservation, archaeology and architectural history subjects. Since I like eating and still needed to pay the bills, I kept working full time whilst I studied part-time, so I had some money coming in.
Once I had that qualification, I harassed various people in the industry and eventually got an unpaid work experience placement with the Environmental Protection Agency, which was the Queensland Government department that managed heritage places at the time (now the Department of Environment and Science). Then I kept in touch with them and eventually got a temporary position, which then led to a permanent position. After working there for 3 years and gaining a great understanding of the legislation and processes involved, I decided it was time to move on.
In 2010, I started at Queensland Rail as their Heritage Strategist. This was a massive job, managing over 500 heritage places, tunnels, bridges etc. One of my proudest achievements was overseeing the commencement of conservation and restoration work on the old Roma Street Station building- one of Queensland’s most significant railway heritage buildings, which had been left abandoned and unloved for over 30 years. However, eventually I decided it was time to move away from the bureaucracy and paperwork of heritage management and go back to my passions and interests which had got me interested in this area in the first place! My long-suppressed detective aspirations could be contained no longer!!!
I resigned and established my own consulting business, under the banner of “The House Detective". It truly was the right decision - working for myself and doing what I love is the best! I can't wait to go to work everyday and my boss is awesome! ;)