ST JOSEPH’S Catholic Church aims to give heritage aspects a higher profile while creating a contemporary usable space in its refurbishment of the St Joseph’s hall and parish offices off Raglan Parade in Warrnambool.
St Joseph’s parish priest Father John Fitzgerald said the renovations would make the buildings more welcoming and more usable to the large number of community groups that used the hall.
The project aimed to “open up our church to the community,” Fr Fitzgerald said.
He said the buildings were “past their use by date”.
Project designer Donna Monaghan said ad hoc alterations over the decades had turned the 1856 hall, the original St Joseph’s school and church, and offices into “a rabbit warren”.
Ms Monaghan said the renovations had removed many internal partitions and false ceilings to reveal the detail and height of the original architecture.
“We will make it comfortable and modern,” she said.
A concrete block scout hall, built in the 1980s, and an archway have been demolished and will be replaced with a new wing that will be the new entrance to the buildings, giving them a more public profile.
A commercial standard kitchen will be installed and landscaping will replace the asphalt on the northern side of the hall to enhance the area’s appearance.
Former stables on the western side of the hall that were used by the scout group and a playgroup will be converted into offices.
Ms Monaghan said the renovations of the stables would also marry the old with the new, restoring the original windows and doors, exposing timber and putting pockets of the original architecture on show.
While the project respects the past, it will also bring the buildings into the modern era of sustainable use of resources with in-ground rainwater tanks, solar panels and LED sensor lighting.
Discussions on the project began in 2011 and involved the large number of hall users who have since relocated to other premises while the work is underway.
Work on the $1 million plus project began in September and is expected to be completed by May.