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  • Writer's pictureKinglake Historical Society

Kinglake To Lose Heritage Building

The Uniting Church building at Kinglake West is to be sold. Despite requests to the Uniting Church Yarra Yarra Presbytery by the Kinglake Historical Society (KHS) for the Church and the demountable building to be retained for the Kinglake community, the Uniting Church property and the two buildings on it are now for sale.
In March 2022, KHS first requested permission to relocate the church building and invited Uniting Church representatives to visit the Heritage Centre to discuss a possible location. A joint request from KHS, Kinglake Lions and Kinglake Landcare was made to the Uniting Church authorities at this time for the demountable building to be retained by the community possibly on an alternative site. These requests were supported by the Kinglake West Reserve Committee and the Kinglake West CFA.
However, the requests were ignored by the Uniting Church authorities at that time. Further requests regarding the relocation of the church were repeated in April, June and July 2023. But no reply was received until 10 November. KHS was informed that the Uniting Church decision was that the Kinglake West property and the two buildings on it are to be sold.

The Uniting Church building is of significant historical value, one of the last two original public buildings – schools, halls, churches - remaining in the Kinglake district, all the others having been burnt down at various times in past years.
Kinglake has lost so many of its heritage buildings, especially in 2009, and now it is to lose another. That will leave the Kinglake West Mechanics Institute Hall as the only remaining original public building.
What makes the loss of the Uniting Church building even more disappointing is that it was originally built by the people of Kinglake West. The land was donated by a local farmer, Samuel Dunstone; £120 for building materials was donated by another local landowner, John Johnston of Pheasant Creek; and additional funds were raised by concerts and bazaars held in the Kinglake West Hall. Local landowner, Jack Burton, and his son, Robert, constructed the church for minimal cost.
This means the church building is an important example of the dedication and achievements of the pioneer families in providing meeting places and building their community. The Uniting Church authorities at the time were saved the expense of providing the building, and the current Uniting Church authorities will now benefit from the hard work of our pioneers.
In addition to that, the demountable, which was placed on the Kinglake West Uniting Church property after the 2009 fires for community relief and recovery, will also be sold with the church property. This portable was partly financed by groups other than the Uniting Church for the continued use of the Kinglake community. With the sale of the property, the Kinglake community will no longer have access to either of these community buildings, an extremely disappointing situation to say the least.

Deidre Hawkins
Kinglake Historical Society
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