The footballer, the $10m Sydney house and the literary star

    It is a story that could have come straight from the pages of the US literary superstar Jonathan Franzen. The author of The Corrections and Freedom has weighed into a stoush in Sydney's Watsons Bay in which residents are fighting plans by the Socceroo goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer for his 1880s harbourfront house Boongarre, also known as the Stead House.

    The house at 14 Pacific Street was the childhood home of the author Christina Stead and the inspiration for what Franzen has called her masterpiece, The Man Who Loved Children. Franzen has backed calls by the Australian authors Alex Miller and Nikki Gemmel for the house to be preserved as a national heritage property. 

    Schwarzer and his wife, Paloma, paid $10.2 million for the home in 2009. He plays for London club Fulham in the English Premier League. In a $2.9 million proposal before Woollahra Municipal Council they are seeking to demolish non-original elements of the two-storey house, including the bay window section and garage, to build a pavilion at the front and a glass structure at the rear facing the harbour. 

    Roger Bayliss, of the Watsons Bay Association, said the residents' group objected to the removal of nine ''historic trees'' and the ''unsympathetic'' extensions that they say will block view corridors to the harbour and ''do not recognise its heritage and historic significance''. 

    Source: Sydney Morning Herald