What is significant?
The first Baptist service in the colony was held in 1838 in a tent on the site where the Regent Theatre now stands. The land for the first chapel on this site was bought from the Crown in 1852, and in 1853 a building intended as a schoolroom and seating 250 people was constructed at a cost of 700 pounds. It was set back from the street to allow a church in front. The chapel was designed by the architect Thomas Watts and was constructed by Huckson and Co in 1858-59. The front portion of the chapel was added in 1863-5 in accordance with the original design. Two intended towers were never constructed. A major fire on 6 October 1983 resulted in the collapse of the roof and the gutting of the auditorium or nave. An office building was subsequently constructed behind the facade, and the facade substantially restored.
How is it significant?|
The former Baptist Church House is of architectural and historic importance to the state of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
While only the front portion of the building remains, it is of architectural importance as a classical facade with fine Corinthian portico, projecting dentillated cornice and entablature, and a substantial remnant of one of only a small number of classical style buildings constructed in the mid nineteenth century.
The former Baptist Church House is of historic importance as a representation of one of Victoria's oldest non- conformist churches. The Baptists support of the classical style reflected their desire to be seen as separate from the Gothic or medieval traditions of the mainstream churches.