Who I Am

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!

Here's a quick summary of my qualifications and experience:

Qualifications:

Graduate Diploma in Local, Family and Applied History from University of New England

Experience:

- Over ten years experience as a historian, primarily focussed on architectural history

- Over 12 years experience in the heritage industry, including: 3 years as Heritage Strategist with Queensland Rail, 3 years as Senior Heritage Officer with EPA/DERM (now Dept of Environment and Science: DES)

Awards:

Helen Taylor Research Award for my Brisbane Retro project, researching and documenting Brisbane's post-war houses

But how did I become The House Detective? Well it was a long and winding road, let me tell you!!

Here's the long version!

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, but after spending many years working in tedious chemistry lab jobs, 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. 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.

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!!! So 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! ;)

When I'm not researching houses, you will find me:

  • watching history documentaries (I'm a tragic history nerd, what can I say?)
  • 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, 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 ones
  • trolling through real estate websites looking for cool old houses or retro pads
  • watching classic old movies and terrible 80s/90s movies
  • camping and/or 4WDing

This is me hard at work recording a house- it's a tough job but someone's gotta do it ;)

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