Renovations are on track and on time as the former nightclub, restaurant and once-Baptist Church in Dawson Street South is restored.
Builder Brian Vince took The Courier on a guided tour as the building is readied for this weekend’s Open Day, which will see striking residences and businesses across Ballarat open to the public for inspection.
Much of the restoration and detailing of the Dawson Street premises has been done by hand, including the working of finial detail and the cutting of brick lines into the fine plaster work of the interior.
“Every time we strip back a part of this building we find more detail, and signatures of people going back to when it was built,” he says.
The restoration has also been meticulous in making records of archaeological discoveries and finds, even up to relevantly recent times. A series of 8mm film fragments found in the cellar document a Pro-Am golf tournament in Ballarat sometime in the 1950s or 1960s, said Mr Vince.
The building has been the most interesting job Mr Vince has worked on since becoming a builder nine years ago.
“Every aspect of the trade is in this restoration,” he says.
And while at the moment there are between two and seven tradies on the job on a given day, Mr Vince says when the building was being constructed there was up to 200 at a time.
“It only took a year to construct the main part of the building,” Mr Vince says.
“Many of the people who worked on this, worked on it for a small wage and a meal. The gold had started to run out, and there were a lot of people in Ballarat looking for work. The skills that were here, and the people from all over the world, it’s just amazing to think of all the talent that went into it.”
Bookings for the Baptist Church tour have been filled, however there are many other venues for Open House Ballarat which do not require bookings. To learn more go to Open House Melbourne.
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