Deciding to put Castlemaine’s landmark Lyttleton Street Presbyterian Church property on the open market was not an easy one for the church’s board of management.
Like many others, the denomination is increasingly grappling with the cost of maintaining ageing, heritage-protected architecture which, while beautiful, may not be meeting the needs of today’s smaller congregations.
“They say it’s one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the state,” Castlemaine’s Presbyterian Church Board of Management secretary Richard McArdle told the Mail recently after the 1894 church along with its associated 1861 manse and original 1856 hall were all listed for sale on their half-acre parcel of prime CBD land.
“It’s a beautiful church. When they built churches back in the day they built them to be something magnificent,” he said.
“It’s been a hard decision. Unfortunately beautiful heritage buildings take money to maintain. It comes down to cash flow. You rely on grants. Over time you use up your resources.”
The manse has long been rented out as a private residence while the hall has hosted all manner of groups and events – “dance groups, art groups…” Mr McArdle says.
The grand church with its glorious stained glass windows, soaring ceiling and imposing lighting features said to be made by Castlemaine’s famed Leviny family creatives of the day has hosted contemporary live music events to great effect.
“The ABC came in here to record and said the acoustics are perfect,” Mr McArdle says.
“That place has got the potential to be magnificent but you need the capital, which we don’t have. Get the full story in today’s Mail…