Sunday, April 11, 2010

Old buildings in Coburg

from w
Yesterday Peceli and I were up in Melbourne for a church service at the very old Coburg Uniting (once Methodist) Church near Pentridge Gaol and next to the old Coburg Primary School where my father went as a child. Because the building is Heritage listed the furniture inside can't be moved around much at all and it is chockers with old dark wood and the pews are hard. Lucky I found a nearby cushion. It is not a warm inviting place but of course the Fijian group there don't complain and just sing and pray and it was lovely to meet up with many friends there yesterday. I've put some photos also on Babasiga blog. After worship, while the afternoon tea was being set up, I went out into the very cold wind and took a few photos which I later messed about with. Here is the result.from the archives:The Infants' School at the corner of Bell and Russell Streets, Coburg, was built in 1910 as an extension of the original Coburg Primary School (No. 484), on the north side of Bell Street, which was constructed in 1874.(1) The memorial stone was laid by Treasurer of Victoria, the Hon W A Watt MLA. The school was the first government school built on the American model of a large central hall with classrooms and offices arranged around and entered off it. The shelter shed near the Russell Street boundary was built by the pupils' parents, c.1910s-20s.

And from the Government Heritage website - about the church:
Statement of Significance
The former Methodist Chapel, constructed in 1849 and extended at the north end shortly afterwards, is the earliest known surviving Methodist chapel in Victoria. This substantially intact building is constructed of bluestone with a sandstone facade facing south towards Bell Street. It is one of the earliest extant bluestone buildings in Victoria and amongst the State's earliest surviving religious buildings. The former chapel was also originally used as a Methodist day school and is believed to be the earliest extant school building in Melbourne. It continues to be used as a hall by the present congregation.

The simple appearance of the 1849 former chapel is representative of mid nineteenth century Methodist chapels, the design of which is based on John Wesley's teachings that chapels should be plain, decent and economical. The simple design also reflects the Methodist emphasis on the preaching of Scripture.

The former Methodist church, now the Uniting church, designed by T J Crouch, was officially opened on 24 December 1857 and is an early example of a Gothic style Methodist church in Victoria. The church is one of three Gothic style Methodist churches, the others being at Lonsdale Street and St Kilda, designed and constructed during 1857 - 1858.

The adoption of the Gothic style, a more traditional and churchly architectural idiom, reflects changes within the Methodist movement during the mid nineteenth century. The 1857 chapel is representative of a number of medium sized suburban and country churches designed by TJ Crouch in sole practice and as a principal of the prolific partnership of Crouch and Wilson. The building is of note for its unusual random rubble stonework of the walls. The bluestone building adjoining both the former chapel and the church which is used as vestry, store and change room, is of note as an integral part of this complex of buildings. The church, former chapel and adjoining building demonstrate the continued use and changing requirements of the congregation. The buildings also illustrate the changes within the Methodist movement and how these changes influenced church architecture.
No wonder it feels very very old! And apparently the church buildings were used for primary school children at various stages. Same as Shenton in Geelong. When we lived in the Shenton manse for nine years, the high school children used to come into the three halls in our back yard for classes. Our boys used to run in and out of our kitchen with their friends to find something to eat!

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