K067 : Uniting Church Group | NSW Environment & Heritage

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K067 : Uniting Church Group

Item details

Name of item: K067 : Uniting Church Group
Other name/s: Methodist Church
Primary address: 142 Katoomba Street, Katoomba, NSW 2780
Local govt. area: Blue Mountains
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
142 Katoomba StreetKatoombaBlue Mountains   Primary Address
Church LaneKatoombaBlue Mountains   Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

Criterion (a) An item is important in the course, or pattern of New South Wales' cultural or natural history.

The church with its 1907 extension has local significance in demonstrating the growth of the town of Katoomba in the early twentieth century and the strength of Methodist sentiment, not least among the coal- and shale-miners. The way in which zeal for the church brought together permanent residents and summer residents is interesting and significant. The organ is a good representative example of the work of the distinguished Sydney organ-builder, Charles Richardson, and has added significance because it formerly belonged to the now demolished Congregational church in Katoomba.

Criterion ( c) An item is important in demonstrating aesthetic characteristics and/or a high degree of creative or technical achievement in New South Wales.

The Uniting Church group has significance as an important church group in the Katoomba Town centre.

As a freestanding building set back from the footpath and divided from the street by the low brick wall, the church is an important element in the streetscape at the end of a row of commercial shopfronts.

The church and hall are good representative examples of the continuum of gothic styles from the Victorian period to the inter-war period.

The former manse is a fine example of a substantial Methodist manse that retains its garden setting, enhanced by the fine sandstone walling and stair to Lurline Street. It is an unusual surviving individual residence in the town centre.

The mature plantings and 1906 sandstone boundary walling are of aesthetic significance at a local level for the contribution they make to the character of the streetscape.

Criterion (d) An item has strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group in New South Wales for social, cultural or spiritual reasons.

The church is a significant expression of local Methodist enthusiasm and the philanthropy of local shopkeepers such as Knight and owners of country retreats such as Chief Justice Darley adds significance to the church buildings.
Date significance updated: 17 Mar 01
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Designer/Maker: Henry Simonson (1888 church); Parsons (1906, parsonage and church); A. H. Packer (1933, hall)
Builder/Maker: Saverny (1888); W. Browne of Ashfield (1906)
Construction years: 1888-1933
Physical description: The Uniting Church group comprises the church, attached church hall and former manse on a site with frontages to Katoomba Street and Lurline Street. The church is at the west end of the group behind a low brick wall to Katoomba Street. The hall is at right angles to the church and the former manse approximately at the centre of the site. Terraced gardens are located to the east of the former manse finishing with a sandstone retaining wall and stair from Lurline Street. A brick garage is located to the southwest of the former manse.

Church
The Katoomba Uniting Church comprises the original church building in the Victorian gothic style built in 1888 with a brick and rendered front and porch built in 1907 in the Federation gothic style.

The original church building is of rendered brickwork, coursed in ashlar, divided into three bays with rendered buttresses. Each bay has a single pointed arch, stained glass window with a rendered label mould. The roof is gabled and sheeted with corrugated steel.

The western bay of the church is gabled with a substantially higher roof than the original building. A gabled porch is on the southern side.

The western wall is parapeted and features a large pointed arch tripartite window assembly within a large recessed pointed arched panel. At the top of the gable a pointed arched panel of terracotta tiles is trimmed with render. Stepped buttresses have rendered copings and the parapet coping is finished with render. Rendered finials and spires complete the composition.

The entry porch is also gabled with stepped buttresses and a doorway with a pointed arched opening trimmed with render.

Hall
The simple gabled brick hall at the rear of the church is of face brick. An entry porch with a castellated parapetted wall is located at the southern end of the western façade.

Former Manse
The former Uniting Church manse is a Federation period single storey weatherboard residence facing east to Lurline Street. It has a hipped roof with a gabled breakfront on the north side of the east elevation. An ogee formed verandah wraps around the east and south sides. The house is clad in rusticated weatherboards and the roof is of corrugated steel with boxed eaves.

The gabled front has a pair of double hung windows with multipane coloured top sashes and a hipped awning on timber brackets with a ripple iron roof.

A skillion verandah is on the west side of the house and has been infilled with fibro and horizontal sliding 2 pane windows. At the north end of the west elevation is a skillion wing.


Garden of former manse

The garden of the former manse is one of the few surviving terraced gardens in the centre of Katoomba. Some of the garden terracing consisting of random dry stone walling was possibly built at the time the house was constructed to make the garden useable. A November 1932 aerial photograph shows established trees around the perimeter of the garden, some of which were removed by 1959 (29.4.59 aerial photograph) and planting had been introduced in the central area of the garden. Older plantings in the garden are Holly (Ilex sp,), Prunus sp., Cedrus sp., Viburnum tinus, May (Spirea sp,) and Lilac (Syringa vulgaris). An oak tree (Quercus robur) is the most dominant planting at street level, although it is likely a c. 1960s planting. The introduction of a number of trees in more recent times will result in the garden becoming more overgrown than in former times. The 1906 sandstone boundary walling makes a significant contribution to the character of the strectscape.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Church - good
Hall - good
Former manse - reasonable
Garden - reasonable
Date condition updated:17 Mar 01
Modifications and dates: c.1970s - concrete block skillion roof link between hall and church
Further information: The church and hall are good representative examples of the continuum of gothic styles from the Victorian period to the inter-war period.

The former manse is a representative example of a Federation period home with its garden setting.

The church with its 1907 addition is representative of the growth of the Katoomba township in the early twentieth century.

The location of the church in the town centre is representative of the importance of the Protestant church to the early life of Katoomba.
Current use: Church
Former use: Church; Manse

History

Historical notes: Methodism in the upper Mountains had its first centre at Mount Victoria, where land for a church was acquired in 1879. Katoomba was at this time strongly Congregationalist, because of John Britty North and his coal-miners. There were, however, some Methodists in Katoomba in the 1880s, marriages were celebrated there by visiting Methodists ministers and in May 1888 the first Methodist service was conducted in the local hall. The trust funds controlled by the widow of a wealthy Methodist minister, William Schofield, were being actively deployed throughout New South Wales in the 1880s and in 1887 Mrs Schofield purchased allotment 17 of section I in the sub-division of James Neale’s portion 53 as a gift to her church. This allotment, which is still intact, ran from Katoomba Street through to Lurline Street.

A Methodist Mission church was quickly designed by the local Katoomba architect, Henry Simonson and built by Mr Saverny. Mrs Schofield travelled to Katoomba from her home in Waverley, Bondi House, on 8 September 1888 to lay the foundation stone with its usual buried time capsule. The church, a simple rectangle with a porch facing Katoomba Street, was completed promptly, opening on 11 November 1888. The substantial allotment was fenced seven months later in June 1889.

A Sunday School opened in the church in 1889 and, in recognition of the interest in Methodism as well as Congregationalism among the miners around Katoomba Falls, the choir used to take a portable organ to the cliff-head there and sing sacred songs to the men far below: this mission activity was reinforced in 1893 when a small Methodist hall was opened down in the Jamieson Valley.

Local people gave generously to the church, according to their means: the well-to-do donors included the Knights of Westella, local storekeepers; Chief Justice Darley at Lilianfels, his mountain retreat; and Ebenezer Vicary, the Holmes a Court of the late Victorian period who spent part of his time on his huge Kanimbla sheep station and whose son succeeded Darley at Lilianfels.

There was still no parsonage in Katoomba and the town remained part of a much wider circuit in the Mountains. As the area recovered from the general economic difficulties of the 1890s, exacerbated locally by the closure of North’s ventures, the need for a more permanent Methodist presence was recognised. The Rev. James Woolnough visited Katoomba in January 1906 and reported that:‘our church building is in a very excellent condition, having been recently repaired and decorated. It is found to be barely adequate on ordinary occasions, and often crowded, and needs enlargement’,while a parsonage, he recommended, should be built suitable for a married minister and his family, with an extra bedroom for visiting clergy (quoted Souvenir Book 1963).

A married man, James Henry Lewin, was appointed soon afterwards and in May 1906 the Katoomba trustees decided both to extend the church and to build a parsonage. The parsonage was given priority and was built in mid-1906 by W. Browne of Ashfield to the design of Mr Parsons. Economies were made by installing wooden mantelpieces instead of all but one of the planned marble mantels (and that one was removed in 1920) and the entire building was reduced in scale. By October 1906 the parsonage was occupied by the Lewins (Trustees’ minutes).




The parsonage lay behind the church, to the east, and its large garden fronted on to Lurline Street. To retain the steeply sloping garden, a ‘wall and parapet fence ... of stone or brick’ was commissioned in July 1906. Stone was used, supplied by Katoomba Municipality from its own quarry (Trustees’ minutes). This stone wall is still one of the series of significant retaining walls along the west side of upper Lurline Street (see K 053).

The church was extended soon afterwards, the original front porch was removed and a wider addition, the present frontage, was constructed by Browne late in 1906, presumably to designs by Parsons. Two foundation stones were laid on 7 November 1906, one by the minister, Lewin, the other by the distinguished philosopher and preacher, Scott Fletcher, and the extended church was inaugurated in January 1907.

A skillion addition to house the Sunday School was at the same time constructed at the east end of the original church building.

The church property was gradually improved over the next twenty years, with garden plantings and replacement fencing to the north, south and west. Gas was connected in 1907, and electricity in 1915 after the Carrington’s power-house was opened.

The final stage in developing the site came in 1933 when the present Sunday School Hall replaced the skillion of 1906 at the east end of the church. This hall, designed by A.H. Packer, was financed in the Depression from the leasing of a cottage in Murri Street donated in 1929 by Mr and Mrs F.K. Tapson. Mrs Tapson laid the foundation stone of the new hall on 28 January 1933 and the hall was dedicated in April.

Although there were recurrent plans to build a new church, which had been the intent of the Tapsons’ gift in 1929, these were never implemented. Instead the church was internally reoriented in 1952 and the hall was reroofed in the same year (Souvenir Book 1963).

The present organ was installed in 1972, but had originally been built in 1915 for the Congregational church in Katoomba Streeet (demolished for the Civic Centre). It is a significant two-manual work of the excellent Sydney organ-builder, Charles Richardson (1847-1926) (Rushworth 1988, 122-35).

When the Rev. Alex Fitzpatrick and his family left in the 1980s, the parsonage was dedicated charitably to house the disadvantaged. During this period its fabric and its garden deteriorated dramatically, but it is now in process of renovation by a new occupant, Dr Daniel Moody.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
7. Governing-Governing Welfare-Activities and process associated with the provision of social services by the state or philanthropic organisations (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The church with its 1907 extension has local significance in demonstrating the growth of the town of Katoomba in the early twentieth century and the strength of Methodist sentiment, not least among the coal- and shale-miners. The way in which zeal for the church brought together permanent residents and summer residents is interesting and significant. The organ is a good representative example of the work of the distinguished Sydney organ-builder, Charles Richardson, and has added significance because it formerly belonged to the now demolished Congregational church in Katoomba.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Uniting Church group has significance as an important church group in the Katoomba Town centre.

As a freestanding building set back from the footpath and divided from the street by the low brick wall, the church is an important element in the streetscape at the end of a row of commercial shopfronts.

The church and hall are good representative examples of the continuum of gothic styles from the Victorian period to the inter-war period.

The former manse is a fine example of a substantial Methodist manse that retains its garden setting, enhanced by the fine sandstone walling and stair to Lurline Street. It is an unusual surviving individual residence in the town centre.

The mature plantings and 1906 sandstone boundary walling are of aesthetic significance at a local level for the contribution they make to the character of the streetscape.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The church is a significant expression of local Methodist enthusiasm and the philanthropy of local shopkeepers such as Knight and owners of country retreats such as Chief Justice Darley adds significance to the church buildings.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The former manse with its large, terraced garden is an unusual surviving individual residence in the Katoomba town centre.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
See further comments
Integrity/Intactness: High
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanLEP2005K06707 Oct 05 122 
Heritage study K067   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Blue Mountains Heritage Study1983K067Croft & Associates Pty Ltd & Meredith Walker  Yes
Heritage Study Review, Blue Mountains1992K067Tropman and Tropman  Yes
Heritage Review Katoomba Leura2001K067Jack, Hubert, Morris, LavelleRIJ; PH; CM Yes
Technical Audit BM Heritage Register2008K067Blue Mountains City CouncilCity Planning Branch No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Photograph 1936Photograph of original 1888 church in Jubilee Methodist Church Katoomba, 1888-1936 souvenir
Written 1963Katoomba Methodist Church and Circuit, 1888-1963: Souvenir Book
Written 1944Minute Book of Katoomba Trust, 1910-
Written 1936Jubilee, Methodist Church, Katoomba, 1888-1936: Souvenir
Written 1916Minute- and account- of Katoomba and Mt. Victoria Circuit, 1889-
Written 1910Minute Book of Katoomba Trust, 1906-
WrittenGraeme D. Rushworth1988Historic Organs of New South Wales

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 1170395


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