National Trust objects to demolition of historic Newport Masonic Hall

The National Trust has objected to the proposed demolition of a historic Masonic Hall, a prominent landmark on Melbourne Road in Newport. The current proposal for a 5-storey mixed-use development follows a 2013 application which was refused by Council, a decision which was upheld by VCAT.

The neo-Grecian building was designed by architect Joseph Plottel and constructed by JH Whitham in 1924-25, and is recognised in the Hobsons Bay Planning Scheme as having local historic, social and aesthetic significance. The subject site is affected by two heritage controls: HO22 includes the site in the Newport Civic and Commercial Heritage Precinct; and HO197 imposes a site specific control over the Masonic Temple, including external paint controls and internal alteration controls.

The building is currently derelict, and the structure has been significantly compromised by concrete cancer. In a structural assessment prepared by Beauchamp Hogg Spano to accompany the application, the author notes that “the building has received very little maintenance over the years, which is a primary contributor to the deterioration”. The National Trust has concerns that the condition of the current building is a case of “demolition by neglect”, and is is unclear whether works have been undertaken to stabilise and maintain the building following the refusal of the earlier permit application for the site. While we acknowledge the significant structural issues identified in the Structural Assessment, the report does not rule out the reconstruction of the building according to Burra Charter principles and its incorporation in any new development.

To read our submission in full, click here.

Newport Masonic Hall, 1934. John Young Collection, in The History of Williamstown from its first settlement to a city 1834-1934.


Add yours
  1. 1
    Peter Ramadge

    Best to keep it. It is a unique landmark and part of our heritage, Wow a a 5-storey mixed-use development where could anyone find something like that in Melbourne.

  2. 2

    Too many buildings lost to developments. Height rise apartment’s popping up everywhere, but how many Masonic lodge Halls still standing?

  3. 3
    Gavin Youl

    A good compromise could be to preserve the front few metres of the building with the inevitable development connected at the rear, rising in a gradual fashion.
    Good architecture could provide a solution along these lines.

  4. 4
    Zdravko Joe Krznar

    Yes engineering costs are overstated. If i was the owner and hired private contractor it would be half the price. Developers love to inflate costs to serve their purpose of development not renovate. Its sad that we will loose another heritage icon so others can make a lot of money. Developers have no consciences its all about making money, money.

  5. 5

    This beautiful historic building needs to be saved, we don’t need another mass development eyesore to pad out developers pockets and increase traffic on the already overwhelmed Melbourne Rd.
    Deterioration by neglect is simply unacceptable and the owners should be held accountable to resolve this by restoration. If they can’t afford to then they need to do what an everyday home purchaser would do and sell it to someone who can afford to do it. If they keep waiting for the building to fall down (or they keep torching it) then there should be criminal charges laid, fines given, and gaol time handed out.

  6. 6

    The Newport Masonic Hall represents the entrance way to the suburb of Newport for me. Being built only two years before the house that I live in, in Newport, I look to it for historical connection. The building gives so much charm to the shopping area of Mason street & Melbourne Road. This area absolutely needs a strong aesthetical and historical point such as this building. To have it sit there, crumbling, represents the sad greedy world we are in. Future generations will be ashamed of us. Can’t we all pull together to restore it and bring it back into use for the community? Something along the lines of the Newport Substation?

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