Uniting Church lists historic North Melbourne church for sale

Uniting Church lists historic North Melbourne church for sale
Brendan Rees

A 144-year-old bluestone church in North Melbourne featuring a landmark spire is up for sale with a price guide of about $10 million.

The St Mark the Evangelist Uniting Church occupies a 4882-square-metre block with a huge complex including a manse, hall, parsonage, cottages, and a commercial building along the frontages of Curzon, Elm, and Queensberry streets.

The site was put on the market earlier this year with JLL now considering a range of expressions of interest.

According to Reverend David Fotheringham, the Uniting Church of Australia’s moderator of the synod of Victoria and Tasmania, the congregation had “discerned that their needs for the future had changed, and that such a substantial landholding, including the associated maintenance and upkeep required, no longer met their missional goals”.

“Their hope is that the proceeds of the sale will fund that missional work for many decades into the future,” he said.

The 1879-built church together with the manse, hall, parsonage, and cottages are listed in the Victorian Heritage Register “as a rare surviving example of an intact church complex”.

“The di-chrome brickwork, interior gallery, stairs, and stained glass are just four of the notable features. The church hall is of architectural significance for the notable large, exposed timber trusses,” a heritage statement reads.

JLL capital markets director Jesse Radisich said the sale had attracted the interest of investors, developers, owner occupiers, and value-add buyers.

“The expressions of interest have closed and we’re very pleased with the response,” he said. “There is a range of different visions for the church building, which we can’t comment too much specifically on what people are thinking, but residential conversions, that sort of thing.”

Rev. Fotheringham said it would be their desire that a new owner was able to respectfully develop the site “to reflect its history and allow rejuvenation of the buildings and introduction of contemporary uses to the site though a sensitive adaptive reutilisation”.

“The specific uses have changed over the past 150 years; however, the site has always been used for the purposes of worship, church-related accommodation and for the missional and community work of the St Mark the Evangelist congregation, including housing Hotham Mission in recent years.”

Chair of the North and West Melbourne Association Kevin Chamberlin said the community would want to “make certain that the new owners respect the heritage status of the property and the importance of the buildings on the site”.

 

“In the hands of the new owners, the refurbishment of the existing buildings would be a major plus for North and West Melbourne,” he said.

 

In October 2004 the congregation celebrated 150 years since the first service of the Presbyterian Church in North Melbourne was held in the loft of a blacksmith’s shop in Villiers St on October 29, 1854.

Five years later, in 1859, the first church, a bluestone building, was constructed in Curzon St and named Union Memorial Church, in honour of the amalgamation of the three strands of the Presbyterian Church, according to records of the Hotham History Project, a community group with an interest in the history of North and West Melbourne.

The Victorian Heritage Register states: “the spire and imposing exterior of the church along with the intact manse, rear hall, parsonage and cottages results in a complex of aesthetic significance, which is a landmark in North Melbourne”.

John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
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