Despite a fire gutting Awaba House on Tuesday night, Lake Macquarie City Council says its first priority is to salvage what remains of the historic property before it considers a total rebuild.
Fire and Rescue NSW told the Newcastle Herald on Wednesday afternoon the blaze was not being treated as suspicious.
While the cause was officially listed as "undetermined", investigators believed it was likely sparked by an electrical fault and there was strong evidence that the fire began in the roof of the house.
Lake Macquarie council owns the property and leases the old house to a private operator who runs it as a café, restaurant and function venue.
Council's manager of property and business development David Antcliff said the blaze took a "significant toll" but planning for the site's future would begin as soon as possible.
Mr Antcliff said council was taking an approach of "salvage before rebuild" where possible.
"We haven't given up on this building," he said.
"We'd love to be able to keep what we've got and work with that, but we'll see what the next few months bring us."
The historic Awaba House was left a shell after fire ripped through the much-loved Lake Macquarie property last night.
Six Fire and Rescue NSW crews worked into the night at the scene at First Street, Booragul. They had been called there just after 5.30pm where the premises was well alight.
Marmong Point resident Craig Wilson, a witness of the blaze, told the Newcastle Herald it appeared the nearby gallery had not been damaged, but the historic house had been reduced to a "shell".
Mr Wilson rushed to the property to check through the windows whether anyone was inside the burning building - he said there was not and the house was locked.
"We looked up and there was a flame coming up out of the roof of Awaba House," he said.
"Within 10 minutes, the roof had caved in. All that's left now is a shell, basically. It's terrible. It's well over 100 years old - there's a lot of history there."
Lake Macquarie City Council on Wednesday said it was offering support to the operators and employees who worked there, thanking the emergency services who worked to save the structure.
They said the full extent of the damage would be revealed once the remnants were rendered safe and a clean-up could begin.
"We understand that this is a difficult time for long-term patrons and upcoming function users, and we will be doing our best to work with the operators and find alternative facilities to accommodate booked functions," the council said in a statement.
"The community and local businesses have already reached out offering their support during this difficult time, which is a testament to the community's love of the historic facility and another example of how the people of Lake Macquarie come together in times of need."
"For their own safety, community members are asked to stay away from the building until advised."
The current restaurant building on the site is the third house on the property. The original home was built in 1878 for William and Margaret Quigley.
The home burned down in 1886 - Mrs Quigley was severely burned while attempting to rescue valuables and subsequently died in November 1886, according to the Lake Macquarie Libraries website. A new home was built in 1887, and named 'Awaba House'. It was demolished due to poor condition in 1927 and a new dwelling replaced it.
The Health Commission purchased the property in 1958, and Lake Macquarie City Council bought it in 1995, as a temporary home for the city's art gallery.
The new art gallery, next to Awaba House, was opened in 2001.
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