Tallarook Mechanics Institute rebuild taking shape

By David Rak

A bold new façade for Tallarook Mechanics Institute was unveiled recently as part of the ongoing rebuild of the hall which was destroyed by fire in May 2018.

Opened in 1891, the hall had been a community hub for nearly 130 years with many activities, special events and functions held across generations.

The front of the building has been under wraps since the rebuild began earlier this year. The new façade uses key design features of the old hall shape and style with a modern twist.

This blend of old and new will continue throughout the hall with a contemporary look that honours the hall’s history and adds more flexibility to the use of the hall space.

The hall is owned by Mitchell Shire Council and managed by the Tallarook Mechanics Institute Committee of Management.

Council has worked in close partnership with the committee and the wider community during the rebuild.

The hall is being rebuilt through council’s insurers who engaged Bay Builders. The committee and community members are also assisting with various in-kind support and volunteer hours.

A $200,000 Victorian Government grant was secured by Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes to assist with items such as design, contents, landscaping and equipment replacement.

The rebuild is expected to finish later this year including the internal fit out, landscaping and the installation of ceramic art which featured at the entry to the old hall.

The ceramic pieces were created by the community with local artist Sandra Bowkett and have been carefully removed and stored.

Mitchell Shire Mayor David Lowe said there has been much discussion about the design with various views and considerations to work through.

“I’d like to thank everyone involved for their time and input including the committee and community members who have put so much into this,” he said.

“It is exciting to see this project taking shape, albeit from photos rather than in person.

“I look forward to seeing it for myself once COVID restrictions lift and I’d like to thank the Victorian Government for their extra assistance on top of the building insurance.”

Committee of Management president Libby Webster thanked Jaclyn Symes for obtaining the grant to contribute to the rebuild process.

“It allowed the community the flexibility to be able to engage the services of Zen Architects to design a functional building that pays homage to the past and provides a multi-purpose venue into the future,” she said.