Save Peter Pan’s birthplace

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Moat Brae after the restoration phase of its proposed renovation. (Scots Magazine)

Moat Brae survives. Moat Brae is the 1823 house and garden in Dumfries, Scotland, where J.M. Barrie, age 8 in 1868 and playing at pirates, conceived Neverland, the land of eternal childhood. That’s the good news. Moat Brae lives – for now.

The bad news is that for two years the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust’s board of directors, after restoring the house, has tinkered with undoing that good work. They want to build two modernist additions to contain a National Centre for Children’s Literature – at the cost of trashing the house and destroying the possibility of ever restoring the garden.

How Moat Brae has managed to hold out this long I do not know, but opponents of this crime against childhood dreams hope to convince the board to change its plans and instead build a more sensitive addition to house its program. Luke Moloney, chairman of the Dumfries Historic Building Trust and a leading opponent, asked the trust to embrace a more fitting plan but was told that such a proposal would be “pastiche” – a derisive modernist word for imitative – and thus out of the questions.

Two years ago I devoted a column, “Help save history and Peter Pan,” to Moat Brae and a similarly threatened treasure – Winchester, the original capital of England. Winchester’s citizens have fought a crudely inept development in court and on the hustings for two years. Now, in Dumfries, citizens who would save Moat Brae are calling on those around the world who remember growing up with Peter Pan to sign a letter to the trust pleading for a last-minute reprieve for Moat Brae and the garden that inspired Neverland.

To sign the letter by Roger Windsor, who started the trust, lost control of it after ensuring the preservation of the house and now leads the opposition to its desecration, email him at

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Proposed additions, second phase of Moat Brae renovation. (Dumfries Courier April 1, 2016)

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Architecture History, Art and design, Development, Other countries, Preservation and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Save Peter Pan’s birthplace

  1. International treasure!


  2. Judith dirom says:

    This is a national treasure and needs to be treated as such…


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