With thanks to the Geelong Heritage Centre, we have compiled a brief history on several of our community halls.
The centenary of the Shire of Corio was marked by the opening of a public hall at the corner of Cox and Melbourne Roads in Norlane. The driving force behind the move for a hall was Councillor Reuben Beckley. Named Centenary Hall, it provided a focus for civic activities in the Shire.
It was opened by the Shire President Councillor AB Wood at the first event - a debutante ball on 14 August 1964.
In 2013 the front entry was upgraded to improve accessible entry, increase street appeal and improve landscaping.
In 2015 Council completed a Master Plan for the Centenary Hall and Waterworld site and a business case has now been endorsed. The proposed Northern ARC Health and Wellbeing Hub will develop the precinct into a world-class, integrated community health and wellbeing hub. A new and improved hall will be one of the key features of the proposed hub.
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Ceres Temperance Hall
The Temperance Hall in Ceres was erected in 1862 for the Barrabool Hills Total Abstinence Society. Design and construction of the building is attributed to Nicholas McCann, a foundation member and first President of the society. He also was the donor of the land on which the hall is located.
The Barrabool Hills Total Abstinence Society was formed in 1861 in response to the perceived intemperance of the district. It was an area renowned for prolific vineyards and hotels.
The substantial sandstone hall with its entry porch and steep pitched roof designed in a primitive Georgian style was built to encourage sobriety
The Temperance Hall was acquired by the Blue Ribbon Society in 1883 and the original shingle roof was replaced with corrugated iron.
In 2013, the hall was purchased by the City. After considerable refurbishment the hall has been managed by the Ceres Community Association (CCA) since 2015.
Historical information from the Heritage Council of Victoria and CCA.
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Originally named Pine Grove, the homestead was built in 1847 by the first permanent settler in the area, Alexander Pennell after it was purchased from the Crown earlier that year.
By the mid 1870s, 160 acres of the land was owned by Albert and August Hartwick and they established an orchard and farm on the property. They remained there until 1941 when the farm was taken over by Stanley Hartwick and he lived there until the late 1950s.
In the early 1980s, the homestead, which was owned by the Richardson family was sold to the Geelong Regional Commission.
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Originally Saint Cuthbert's Church of England, was designed by Laird and Buchan Architects and built by Mr Kelly in 1911. The church building was situated at the corner of the Marshalltown and Barwon Heads Roads.
In the 1970s Grovedale had been established as a new housing area and the parish took advantage by purchasing an excellent site right in the centre of Grovedale. New people came to Saint Cuthbert's from Grovedale and the parish assumed new vigour. A house was bought in Grovedale in 1977 for the first resident priest, Reverend Grant Morrow. With much growth occurring, it was soon decided to build a new worship centre on the centrally located land in Heyers Road, Grovedale.
In 1982 the final service of Marshall was commenced at the Marshall chapel and finished at the new site in Grovedale. The chapel was purchased by the City of South Barwon and operated as the Marshall Community Centre from about 1983-1987.
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Cobbin Farm Precinct
In 1985-1986 the City of South Barwon was invited by the Geelong Regional Commission to manage the facility at 231 Grove Road for an appropriate community use. The matter was discussed at council meetings to determine the most suitable use. Some of the options tabled included; conference centre with accommodation, reception rooms and restaurant, tea rooms with picnic area and kiosk, historical centre and community visual arts centre. It was agreed that the availability of the property should be advertised and submissions sought over a period of two months for appropriate use of the property. In October 1986 it was determined that the Grove Road property may offer the better alternative to establish a Community Arts Centre for the City of South Barwon.
The Council had for a number of years been working towards the development of a Community Arts Centre. The Marshall Community Centre site had been regarded as the most appropriate site for this development since 1983. A plan had been adopted by Council in December 1984, however there were a number of factors limiting progress on the project such as, lack of size of internal footprint, residential concerns, poor condition of existing buildings and cost. In contrast, the Grove Road site was better located, the site was not restrictive and the house provided a base on which the Centre could be developed. In February 1987 it was decided that the former chapel could be relocated from the site in Marshall to Grove Road to establish the Centre for the Arts.
On 25 May 1987, the first stage of work commenced. The three southern bedrooms of the homestead were converted into a caretaker's unit. Works finished in August and the position was advertised.
The second stage of works commenced on 21 September the same year. These works included relocation of chapel from Marshall by truck to replace garage (which was demolished), removal of tennis court, painting, construction of gazebos, removal of swimming pool, building renovations and upgrade of essential services. The finishing date for the project was 4 March 1988.
The Cobbin Farm Centre for the Arts was officially opened on 27 November 1988 by the Honourable RC Fordham MP, Minister for the Arts.
In 2007-2008 the University of the Third Age (U3A) Geelong approached Council as they were looking for a venue. Cobbin Farm was the ideal venue as it had previously been vacated. The U3A program which operated during school term allowed the venue to still be hired out to the community in the evenings and during school holidays.
In 2017, after 30 years as a caretaker's unit and residential tenancy, the southern part of the homestead was absorbed back into the original homestead. This created an additional space for chapel hirers and U3A including ambulant toilet, small kitchen and small lounge. The private yard was also removed, creating an open lawn and picturesque setting for people to sit or congregate outside the chapel.
In 2020, the venue received a designated sealed car park and external lighting, with renovations to the indoor amenities in the homestead including new male, female and accessible toilet as well as joinery upgrades in the kitchenette and unisex toilet.
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Originally named Blink Brae, the house was built for John Pettitt, a merchant in 1909-1910. The park, in which the house stands, was named after John Pettitt as a councillor of the Shire of Corio and original owner of this house.
Pettitt Park is also the original site of the bell on the post for which the suburb of Bell Post Hill is named. The bell was erected by Cowie and Stead in 1836, the first homestead on Bell Post Hill. It is believed that the primary purpose of the bell was to advise the nearby residents that a ship was in they bay, presumably so that they could go to Point Henry to pick up stores and provisions.
In 1859, when there was no further use for its warning, the owner of the bell had it shipped back to Tasmania for repairs. After repair, it was stored for some time in Geelong until it was presented to the Morongo Girls' College where it was rehung not too far from the original site.
John Pettitt ceased to own the site by 1956 when Robert Wilson is recorded as the occupier and the Marist fathers, Maryvale, Hunters Hill, NSW as the owners.
Mr F Venuto is noted as the owner or occupier in 1972 prior to it being purchased by the Shire of Corio. During the 1970s it was used by the Shire as the Cobradah Youth Centre. The Aboriginal word Cobradah means place on a hill.
In 1984, the homestead was converted from a youth centre to the clubrooms of the newly formed Cobradah Senior Citizens Club. At the official opening of the new clubrooms, in the former house, was held in the presence of the Shire President, Councillor Bob Dragt as well as other councillors. It was noted that:
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The completion of the new facility, which was financed by the council at a cost of $16,000 recognises the importance of the role in the community played by senior citizens.
Geelong West Town Hall
The Geelong West Town Hall was built in 1923-1924 as the municipal offices of the then Borough of Geelong West. It replaced the original town hall and chambers which were constructed in 1876.
The new town hall was build immediately behind the old one, allowing council officers to work uninterrupted until the old town hall was demolished in 1925 and the officers were relocated. A World War 1 war memorial and forecourt was constructed on the site of the old town hall in front of the new town hall. It was unveiled by the Governor, Lord Somers on 18 September 1927.
In 1973, the gallery and extensions to the north and south wings of the Geelong West Town Hall were completed and officially opened by the Honourable EG Whitlam, QCMP Prime Minister of Australia on 16 March 1973.
In 1993, the City of Geelong West was amalgamated along with several other neighbouring municipalities to form the new City of Greater Geelong. The Geelong West Town Hall has been managed by the City of Greater Geelong ever since. The newly formed council maintained the use of the main hall and supper room for community use and hire.
In 2013 the forecourt was restored to include the reconstruction of the stepped based of the monument in off-white concrete construction to the same dimensions as the original plan. Improved assess to the front of the building was included as well as a new lawn area to better simulate the original appearance of the forecourt.
From 2013-2016 the kitchen and bar areas adjoining the main hall underwent a significant upgrade. This included refurbishment of the bar area, installation of a kitchenette in the Supper Room and widening of the main kitchen with additional ovens allowing the kitchen to be registered to a commercial standard. The upgrade meant that not only did the kitchen better serve the Main Hall, but could also cater for cooking classes and demonstrations with the new amenities and island bench installation.
In 2018 a new compliant accessible toilet with baby change table was installed to service both hire spaces and replace the two older accessible toilets which no longer met compliance. This also included the installation of a new, compliant accessible entry directly into the supper room with automated door access.
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First built in 1886 for the Lara Hall Company the original structure was replaced by the existing timber building in 1922.
In 1927, roller skating was held in the hall but lasted only a few months.
Dancing was the greatest entertainment for most people from the 1920s to the 1950s and dances were held every Saturday night. Many halls of the time were competing with one another for dancers and would try various methods to attract dancers, including free buses from Geelong. As many as six buses could be seen at the Lara Hall on a busy Saturday night.
In 1948, the Lara Development Association (successor to the Progress Association) was formed. The main reason for the formation was to raise funds to pay the Lara Hall Company a weekly rent to keep the Hall open for local entertainment. There was reason for concern as the Company had received an offer from another company to produce shirts. The Association was successful in keeping the Hall open in 1956.
As the Shire of Corio had moved from Lara to Osborne House in North Geelong, it saw need for a public hall in Lara as the old shire hall was now home to the Lara RSL. Consequently, the Shire purchased all the shares in the Lara Hall Company, including the Hall itself.
During the 1950s there were picture shows every Friday night for a couple of years and there is also records of badminton being played there during the 1960s.
In 1975 the Lara Senior Citizens Club was formed and operated from the hall.
In 1988 the Shire of Corio opened the new extension to the hall, as separate social room for the Seniors Club.
From 2015-2017, the kitchen underwent a significant renovation, new toilets were installed and the car park was sealed for the first time.
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Marcus Hill Memorial Hall
From 1977 the hall was managed by the Marcus Hill Memorial Hall Management Committee for the Shire of Bellarine.
The present day hall was opened in 1987 after the original timber hall was destroyed by fire in December 1983. Only the toilets, kitchen and and tennis pavilion were saved in the blaze.
In 1993 the Marcus Hill State School, which shared the site, was closed and the school buildings relocated.
In 2001 extensive hall renovations were completed. This included substantial landscaping, a new asphalt driveway and relocation of the reserve entrance from the busy Bellarine Highway to the quieter Banks Road around the corner.
In 2020, the Marcus Hill Memorial Hall Management Committee opted to return the lease to the City, marking the end of more than 40 years of management.
The hall was not only a meeting place for the district, but is also a shrine for those who were lost in both world wars. The hall houses memorabilia from the closed Marcus Hill and Mannerim State schools also.
In the last decade, the hall has undergone several upgrades including:
- new kitchen facilities
- new bathroom facilities
- new front entry portico
- sealed car park
- flooring refurbishment
Today the hall is managed by the City and still home to a number of local community groups and also available for casual hire.
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Mount Duneed Hall
The land for the hall was given to the community in about 1948 by a local resident and held by trustees. A hall was erected by Eric Lyons (later EJ Lyons & Sons) as a meeting place for the Mount Duneed Progress Association and for the use of residents in the Shire of Barrabool.
The land and building was handed over to the Shire in about 1975.
Today the hall is still home to the Mount Duneed Progress Association and also available for community hire.
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In 1982-1983, the Shire of Bellarine received a government grant of $200,000 for a building for the Newcomb Senior Citizens Club. The Club formed in 1975 and had been using the nearby Saint Barnabas church hall as well as the scout hall as they had no home of their own. The site on the corner of Wilsons Road and Dorward Avenue was purchased for $36,500 where the old Presbyterian church once stood.
On 8 April 1983 the Newcomb Seniors Citizens Club at 82 Wilsons Road was officially opened.
In 2017-2018 the Newcomb Senior Citizens Club returned their lease to the City of Greater Geelong as the club was winding down and could no longer manage the venue. From then, Council has managed the building as a community hall, allowing the local community to continue to access and benefit from the use of the venue.
In 2020 the venue received a major renovation to the amenities including new male, female and accessible toilet and cleaner's room.
It has proven very popular for hall hire ever since, due to its excellent layout and central location not too far from the Geelong.
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St Leonards Reserve Hall
The history of the venue dates back to 1947 when Len Trewin marked out an area in Cole St with a single file plough and obtained a 99 year lease on crown land for a cricket oval for a new club to play. A hut was erected by local volunteers during the 1950s using materials supplied by the Shire of Bellarine. This was replaced by a community hall which was built in the early 1980s and the sporting clubrooms were attached in 1992.
Today the sporting clubrooms are managed by the St Leonards Cricket Club (summer) and Bellarine Sharks Soccer Club (winter).
The community hall is managed by the City.
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Virginia Todd Hall
The original hall building was erected sometime between 1920-1928 and its original use was as a Salvation Army Citadel. Most of Geelong West's religious buildings were located in Pakington Street by this time and although it is not located on Pakington Street, it is very near to the centre of the commercial area.
- the 1980s it was converted into the City of Geelong West Community Centre
- the early to mid 1990s the western part of the building was added as a Children's Services Centre as well as the Geelong West Maternal and Child Health on the southern part of the building
- 2002 Diversitat Aged Services moved into the western part of the facility which was previously vacated by the Children's Centre
- 2017 Diversitat Aged Services moved from the Virginia Todd Centre to their new facility in Norlane and Gateways Support Services moved into this space in 2018
- 2018 the hall was carpeted to better cater for early years programs and improve acoustics.
The Centre is named after former Geelong West City mayor and councillor, Virginia Todd.
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Wandana Heights Hall
The complex was constructed in 1982-1983 and was supervised by the Shire of Barrabool. It was jointly financed by a number of local and government entities including:
- Country Roads Boards
- Department of Youth, Sport & Recreation
- Highton Progress Association
- 1st City of South Barwon Scout Group
- 4th Highton Scout Group
- Wandana Heights Tennis Club
- Shire of Barrabool.
In addition, design and construction supervision of the building was undertaken by local Wandana Heights residents: P Betts, R Hundt and J Podvinsek.
The reserve, which was originally named the Wandana Heights Recreation Reserve is named after Thomas Joseph 'Tim' Hill (1924-1988), former Councillor and Shire President of the Shire of Barrabool. Over the years he served on many local community committees and associations including Scouts, Buckley Progress Association, Wandana Heights Progress Association, Committee of the Geelong Regional Library Service, Performing Arts Trust and the Geelong Regional Commission.
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Do you know more?
Please contact us at [email protected] if you have any further information regarding the history of any of our halls.
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