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History at Willoughby
Eric Nicholls was born in Victoria in 1902. He began his architectural career in 1916 and in 1921 began to work with Walter and Marion Griffin. His calm leadership style and conflict resolution skills combined with his architectural talent impressed the Griffins. When they first moved to Castlecrag in 1925 they left Nicholls in charge of the Melbourne office.
In 1929 Nicholls joined an impressed former client in building incinerators that were sympathetic to their surroundings as well as functional. Both alone and together with Griffin, numerous incinerators were designed and built, and Nicholls moved his family to Sydney in 1930. The Willoughby Incinerator began operating in 1934, and is currently one of the best remaining examples of their work.
During this period Griffin was the primary designer of homes in Castlecrag, but following his death in 1937 Nicholls completed more work in the area. His work began to take on a distinctive sandstone pillar style.
As well as designing houses, Nicholls created public buildings. He was appointed Honorary Town Planner for Willoughby City Council in the 1940s. He designed the Albert Chowne Memorial Hall and the Willoughby Park Bowling Club, as well as several other community buildings. He also donated his time as honorary architect to the Castlecrag Community Hall, Kindergarten and Library.
Two of his most well-known designers were office buildings in the Sydney CBD, Caltex House and Local Government House. Later on in life Nicholls devoted his time and money to a venture in Thredbo, as well as building and establishing Glenaeon Schools in Pymble and Middle Cove. Nicholls continued to live in Castlecrag until his death in 1965.
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