Luhrs Cottage was built in the mid-1800’s by Johann Luhrs, the school teacher. He arrived in South Australia from Germany in 1843, and in 1846 took on the position of teacher at Light Pass. Along with his teaching duties he was also expected to help establish the Immanuel Church and Congregation. Luhrs bought 20 acres of land in the centre of Light Pass for mixed farming and built his cottage on this land.
In 1846 he married Anna Rosina Schultz. Rosina had come out as a servant to the JC Heidrich family. Heinrich and Rosina settled in Light Pass and had 6 children – one sadly stillborn.
After the division amongst the members of Immanuel Church, the couple became foundation members of the Strait Gate congregation.
Johann died in 1863 aged 55 and Anna died in 1892, aged 72. Both are buried in the Strait Gate cemetery.
The cottage serves as an annexe to the Strait Gate manse.
After the Luhrs family moved away, the cottage was used as extra rooms by the inhabitants of the “new” Strait Gate manse, built in 1908.
Veronica Kummerow (nee Stolz), who grew up in the manse in the early 1900’s, has many happy memories of the cottage. At that time the front room was turned into a bedroom for some of the boys. Their furniture consisted of 2 iron beds, a stretched cord for a wardrobe, 3 boxes for shelves, a wooden chair. and of course, a ‘gesunter’ under the bed. The other front room was her father’s workshop, where everything was mended from shoes to horse equipment. Mending saucepans, she remembers, was her father’s specialty, although “they never ever stood quite straight again”. This room was also where the geese were plucked and the feathers used to stuff their mattresses. The back room was their bathroom and laundry. She loved Saturday night (bath night). Once the baths were done, her father would gather all the children together to play games – her favourite was ‘follow the leader’, when her father would lead the children, shrieking and laughing, in and out through the rooms.
Disrepair, restoration, and a new chapter.
When the most recent manse was built in 1961, the cottage. no longer used, fell into a state of disrepair. By 1978, when pastor Cedric Zweck and his wife Margaret were called to Strait Gate, the garden was overgrown and the cottage falling down. Margaret fought hard to save it from demolition, and then by chance a Luhrs descendant visited Light Pass. He donated a large sum towards the cost of restoration.
Many local people helped with the hard work required in bringing the cottage and the garden back to life, and donated relics of their own to fill the cottage. It was opened officially on 9th December 1984, and in 1989 the Luhrs Cottage Preservation Society was formed to oversee the cottage and the history it holds. In 1990 the cottage was placed on the Heritage Trust of SA register. Today local community members and groups work hard to maintain the cottage and keep it open for everyone to appreciate.
The cottage today is a gathering point for preserving its own history and the history of the Light Pass community. It stands as a wonderful reminder of the importance of the actions of individuals in recognising and saving our heritage.