A large imposing church of Victorian Gothic style . The building is symmetrical with rectangular body, of cruciform plan with square high bell tower in 3 lifts (no turret), smaller chancel and transepts. Entrance porch at street side only (possibly an early addition). Pointed-arched sandstone windows, some stained glass, some diamond and square panes. The tower is even topped with battlements and pinnacles of a real 'Carpenters' Gothic type and has interesting animal face gargoyles. Mix of dressed stone quoins and bush hammered stone elsewhere. Walls are buttressed. Cement on the roof is unsympathetic. There are fine stained glass windows erected between 1906 and 1962.
Nave 16m x 7.3 m (53' by 24'); Chancel 6m x 5.4m (20' by 18'); organ chamber and vestry are in the transepts; Tower 15.2m (50') high.
Physical condition is fair to poor. Cracking to bell tower.
The place named Wallerawang derives from the language of the Wiradjuri Aborigines who occupied the area before white settlement. It is said to mean 'place near wood and water' or 'plenty of water'.
The first colonial settler in the Lithgow-Wallerawang district was James Walker. He was born in Perth, Scotland, in 1785, the son of wealthy merchant. He became an artillery officer in the Royal Marines and retired in 1822. In May, 1823, he set sail on the Brutus for N.S.W.
On reaching Sydney in September, Governor Brisbane granted him 809 ha (2,000) acres at Wallerawang. This land had been by-passed on the way to Bathurst by the early settlers and in 1837, he applied for more land between the Wolgan Valley and Bathurst. He started 1800 cross-bred sheep, 64 merinos, 312 head of cattle and 15 horses. By the end of 1840, James Walker held an immense tract of country under licence and was running 1487 cattle and 20,534 sheep. In 1854 he was the holder of 16 stations with an area of 190204 ha (470,000 acres).
Thomas Walker and his wife Robina Ramsay Walker (his cousin) had four children; Allison, Wilhelmina, Archibald and Georgina. James Walker died in 1856, aged 71, and in 1866 his widow who still held licences for 15 stations died in 1867.
Georgina Walker-Barton commissioned Edmund Blacket in 1880 to design St John The Evangelist Church. Georgina mainly financed the construction of the church and established a small school nearby which is still standing. The reflection of religious philanthropy is an important theme in Lithgow with five other churches in the area being privately funded.
The Church was built on part of James Walker's original Wallerawang station and was to be used as the Wallerawang Estate Chapel and a 'union' or public dual-denomination church: by both the Presbyterian and Anglican denominations in memory of James Walker, his wife and Georgina's husband Edwin Barton.
The builder George McGarvie Donald of Lithgow was a master stone mason and builder who helped create the city of Lithgow. Born in Paddington in 1846, he was son of a Scottish stone mason George Donald. George senior had been encouraged to migrate to New South Wales by Governor Macquarie who wished him to assist with government building works. George junior did an apprenticeship as a stone mason under his father and uncle. After this he was engaged on railway construction projects in the Bowenfles district in the late 1860s. He worked on stone railway bridges at the Great Zig Zag and Marrangaroo, and married Marion Miles, daughter of one of the construction foremen. Following compleiton othe railway he moved to Hill End and worked on a range of construction projects. Among these was Hill End Methodist church, built of basalt rubble from the gold mines. It is now used as an Anglican church. After the failure of the deep lead gold boom of the 1870s George returned to the Lithgow valley and established a construction business with Thomas Crowe. In the early 1880s he constructed St.Mary's Presbyterian church for Thomas Brown, built as a memorial to Brown's wife, Mary. He also built Cooerwull Academy for Brown, and the Church of St. John the Evangelist at Wallerawang. Other projects included Lithgow Town Hall, Wallerawang Public School the Lithgow Oddfellows Hall and many residences. Donald and Crowe also built Mort's freezing works. George Donald was extremely active in community affairs and had a great sense of social justice. He was founding member of the GUIOOF Lily of the Valley Lodge and the Good Templars Lodge. Popular among citizens he was elected the first mayor of Lithgow after establishment of the Municipality of Lithgow in 1889. He held the seat of Hartley in the NSW Legislative Assembly jointly with Joseph Cook from 1891. (ibid, 2014, 32-33).
Donald was responsible for the best stone buildings of the late Victorian period in the area. The foundation stone was laid in 1880 by Bishop Frederic Barker D.D.
Knowing Edmund Blacket's great success since 1843 in both Sydney and Australia for harmonising religious desires for austerity/simplicity with High Anglican richness, detail and iconography, Georgina ensured a magnificent opening ceremony in 1881, officiated by various dual denominational clerics. Furthermore she granted in perpetuity the land to St Johns to be a parish Church for Presbyterians and Anglicans.
In 1952 the Church was formally given to the Presbyterian and Anglican churches. The Presbyterian Minister from Bowenfels was conducting regular Sunday services but the local Anglican Parish has not used the church regularly since the early 1980s.
Sometime during 2001 the Church's insurance company ordered the property to be locked and fenced after an engineer's report revealed serious cracking in the bell tower that could be dangerous to people within the grounds. At this stage the Church was no longer used for regular church services.
Through the work of the Friends of St John Committee, who were successful in obtaining a grant from the Heritage Office, a Conservation Management Plan and urgent structural and maintenance was work completed during 2004 and 2005. To mark the occasion of the official re-opening of St John the Evangelist Church a Thanksgiving Service was held on 14 May 2006.
In 2001 the Church was advertised for sale. To save this important community asset the Friends of St. John's was formed. Lithgow City Council purchased the building for community use. With financial assistance from the state government a lengthy restoration process followed. Once again the Church is available for services of all faiths and has been restored.
Church services (Presbyterian) are now held on 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month at 8.30am. These restarted in May 2006.