Heirloom after a home

A RARE and intricate model of a staircase built by a German immigrant who lived and worked in central Victoria is looking for home in Bendigo. 

Heinrich Munzel crafted the double-spiraled staircase while he lived in Brazil. 

Heinrich immigrated to Australia in the 1850s, with his wife and three children, and took the miniature staircase with him. 

He worked as a carpenter and opened businesses in Melbourne and Bendigo.  

The staircase was displayed in the Melbourne Immigration Museum until recently and will be placed into storage. 

Heinrich's great, great grandchildren Marie Henkel, Colin Munzel and June Dorman have written a book which tells the story of the staircase. 

Ms Dorman, who lives in Dingee, said she had asked Museum Victoria if the staircase could be put on display in Bendigo. 

"I asked whether there would be any chance of getting it up to Bendigo," she said. 

"The lady at the museum said yes - so I have been sent to find a place for it to live.

"It might be permanent - we don't know."

Ms Henkel said the Munzel family history was very interesting and through writing the book she had discovered things she didn't know. 

She said Heinrich's business was passed on to his son Edward, who designed the staircase in the City Family Hotel. 

Ms Henkel said the staircase was part of the Victoria State Museum Collection and was given an honorable mention in the Intercolonial Exhibition of Australia. 

"It is not just in a museum or art gallery, where it could be taken down - it's not like that," she said. 

"It's perpetually now part of the state collection which is the greatest honour.

"Every time I think of that I go teary." 

Ms Dorman said she would love to see the staircase on display in Bendigo.

"This is where it belongs because they are buried here and their graves are here," she said. 

"It is just so lovely.

"We would love to see it more often." 

madeleine.wines@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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