‘Heavenly trio’ up for sale

Castlemaine's imposing, historic Presbyterian Church in Lyttleton Street.

Castlemaine’s grand historic Presbyterian Church at 11-13 Lyttleton Street is being sold out of church hands for the first time since it was built in 1894 – alongside its imposing old manse residence and original church hall.

Waller Realty director Rob Waller said the unique and historic sale was attracting significant interest with multiple interested parties already shown through the “heavenly trio” of central dress circle buildings since the property was listed about a fortnight ago.
“Interest has been strong. There’s been a lot of enquiries, a lot of interest from local, Melbourne and interstate,” Mr Waller said.
“There’s been around 20 different groups inspect it so far,” he told the Midland Express on Friday.
“I understand that the property has changed hands from other denominations in the past but this is the first time that it’s going out of church hands.”

The Presbyterian Church is selling the buildings as changing demographics, ongoing building maintenance pressures and contemporary creature comfort needs prompt its plans to downsize to another local site.
“It’s a glorious building but it was built to accommodate 140 to 160 people and we now have a congregation of 40 to 50 people,” secretary of the church’s board of management, Richard McArdle told the Express.
“It’s changing needs. We get by with grants but the upkeep of historic buildings costs.
“We need to find something appropriate.
“We’ll be looking to use the sale of one to fund the purchase of another. We want to stay local.”

The 127-year-old Italian Gothic church has its roots in Castlemaine’s gold rush era and was built for just £2000 at the time.
It sits on an elevated half-acre block that’s also occupied by the 1856-built Georgian-styled hall and 1861 solid brick manse homestead.
Features include the church’s towering pitched ceiling, slate roof, imposing leadlight windows, ornate turrets and baltic pine floors while the Georgian-style hall boasts arched windows, a tearoom and kitchen, and a choir gallery.

Mr Waller said the history-steeped buildings were heritage protected so couldn’t be demolished.
However the unique property is zoned for residential development and would suit a history buff interested in modernising the interior while retaining the heritage appeal.
“An accommodation business would be highly suitable,” Mr Waller said.
The unique landmark property is listed with a price guide of $1.5m-$1.65m.

Inside the Italian Gothic 1894-built church.