Why do we love a mystery so much? Is there something in our DNA which draws us to solve a puzzle or unwrap a problem to find its hidden answer? A good mystery keeps us dancing on our mental toes, it’s an intellectual challenge, but one that has a physical payoff too. As we seek for clues and assemble information our grey cells kick into overdrive and the stimulated brain is flooded with the feel-good chemical dopamine giving us a natural high. A mystery solved creates a palpable feeling of triumph, that moment when all the pieces line up and the answer is revealed is a time of satisfying smugness.
Right now I am trying to solve my own West End mystery – who, or what, is WALJON?
The outside tables at Bank Corner Café provide one of the West End’s great people watching spots, but if you turn and look toward Hunter Street there is something just as fascinating, a long skinny brick building snuggled between the refined Foleys Pianos and the edgy Fat Ink tattoo parlour.
This building, at 695 Hunter Street, begs so many questions. It’s obviously new, but its Victorian terrace-like design reflects a much older architectural style. It has two-storeys, gracious arched doorways and windows and its lines are in sympathy with the surrounding streetscape. At the top of the building in a curved arch is ‘WALJON 2002’.
The architect has gone the extra mile; white plaster cherubs and lions decorate its façade and the building has some lovely touches such as the use of many different kinds of bricks which combine harmoniously and give the building a warm glow. Overall it has a Georgian feel and its lines are visually appealing. Somebody – WALJON? – has a great eye for detail.
A couple of mysteries present themselves. Was the building damaged during the 1989 earthquake and subsequently demolished and rebuilt? This part of Hunter Street was hit, with Rice’s Bookshop only a couple of doors up sustaining serious damage. WALJON is currently occupied by 8th Generation P/L Community and Strata Title Consultants and CPS Project Management, but neither of these businesses provides a clue to the building’s name.
Was WALJON the former name of the building which has been replaced in this rebuild or a new one entirely? Regardless I veer toward thinking that it is a combination of two names. But is it a combination of first names – Wallace/Wallis/Walter and Joni/Jonathan/Jonah? Or a combination of two abbreviated surnames – something very proper like Walworth or simple like Jones?
Can anyone solve the WALJON mystery?
One of the photos of the WALJON building in this slideshow is from photographer OZinOH whose lovely photostream of images, including an album on Newcastle West, can be found on Flickr http://www.flickr.com