Warrnambool’s oldest shop building to get modern makeover

WHAT is probably Warrnambool’s oldest shop building is set for restoration and a 21st century makeover in plans submitted to Heritage Victoria.

The crumbling wooden and sandstone structure at 220-222 Timor Street dates back to the 1850s and is regarded as a “remarkably intact and rare representation” of early colonial architectural traditions.

In its early days it had two entrances and served as grocery and ironmonger’s stores and residence. Later it was a piano tuning business and an electrical equipment repairs shop.

The National Trust in 1959 considered it one of Victoria’s most outstanding old buildings.

Alas it later fell into disrepair and was sold earlier this year as part of a court order to settle a family issue.

Now Warrnambool architect Mathew Morse has lodged an application with Heritage Victoria to restore the frontage and transform the building into a ground-floor retail shop with two residential apartments occupying the second-storey and extending to the rear.

An internal dividing wall between the two old shops, rear outbuildings and lean-to roofs will be demolished, but most of the original sandstone will be maintained.

“We believe the viability of this building, currently heavily run down and in increasing urgent need of repair, depends on this development,” the application says.

“This proposal undertakes to restore the original building elements/systems while modernising the building where appropriate to increase the attractiveness of the retail space for future commercial business.

“Timber facade elements will be restored as part of this proposal, seen as important to retaining the 19th century character of the facade.”

Heritage Victoria says the shops and residences were most probably erected prior to 1860 and lists 1850 as the possible start of construction. 

“They are of historical significance as two of the oldest surviving commercial premises in Warrnambool,” the heritage description says.

“The residences were intended for occupation by the shopkeeper, indicating the close connection between work and private life for many small scale shop-owners, a facet of urban social organisation that is rapidly declining in the contemporary city.” 

Permit application details can be found on the Heritage Victoria website and submissions must be lodged by November 21. A decision is expected early next year.

pcollins@standard.fairfax.com.au

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