Built on the lands of the Wurundjeri people, the Northcote Uniting Church was founded in 1854 across the road from the current bluestone church. Since then, those of the Christian faith have gathered in the church buildings for worship, Sunday school, socialising and even primary school education. As the Wesleyan Methodist Church the building was the:
- first Council chambers
- first Court of Petty Sessions
- forerunner of Helen Street Primary School.
So, grounded in the life of the community, the church history and development has contributed to and reflected that of the surrounding community.
The first religious services conducted by Wesleyans were held in private residences. From these gathering came a congregation necessitating proper church buildings.
1854 (mid year)
Land 25 feet square acquired at 250 High Street , Northcote. The bluestone building provided accommodation for a day school, Sunday School and church.
Who paid for the building?
One report states that the Denominational School Board provided 300 pounds of the estimated 700 pound cost. A contemporary diary written by the Rev Daniel James Draper, representative of the Australasian Conference of the Wesleyan Methodism, suggests that the promised money was not paid, and the community had to raise the money.
The building was probably designed by ‘prolific’ church architect Thomas Crouch, who also designed the Northcote Brickworks. He also designed the extension in 1855. The façade is more recent, but the back of the church is in original condition.
The school had an average of 55 children attending. The first teacher was Robert S Bunn. This school eventually shifted to a new building in Helen Street , where a primary school continues to this day.
In 1855 the Rev Daniel James Draper, representative of the Australasian Conference of the Wesleyan Methodism wrote:
MAY, SUNDAY 28TH. Mr Symons called and reported that the roof of Northcote chapel had been blown off during the terrific gale of last night
AUGUST 13TH. Rode to Northcote. Visited several families and solicited money for the enlargement of the chapel.
DECEMBER 19TH. Northcote meeting. Mr Guthridge in the chair. Speakers, Huill, Symons, Draper etc. proceeds 75 pounds
Northcote is a small village about three miles from Melbourne, on the “Plenty Road”. On a piece of land given by Mr R Courtenay, for many years Governor of the Wesleyan Immigrant’s Home,” a stone building has been erected to serve the double purpose of school and place of worship. It was soon too small and had to be enlarged to double its size. It was one of those places which suffered from the repudiation of the School Board, referred to in the Appendix on Wesleyan Education. Two-thirds of the cost of erection had been promised by the Board; but when the building had been erected for nearly one year and a half, no money could be obtained. And then only one-half of the cost instead of the two-thirds as promised. It was towards raising money for the payment of the debt thus incurred, that this meeting was held; and for so small a community the financial result was both gratifying and liberal.
The building at 250 High Street was enlarged to twice its original size.
1869 7th Nov. (or 9th)
Foundations stone of current church (251 High St) laid by Bishop Taylor. The land 50 feet x 150 feet cost 90 pounds. The first part of the present church was built at a cost of 1,400 pounds, and provided seating for 250 people.
The new church opened on 10th July for religious services. For a considerable time this building was also used by the Congregationalists and the Presbyterians and others.
The original building was reported to be in poor condition although able to accommodate 110 children. A state school was built in Helen Street, and when it opened, the Wesleyan School closed.
The building at 250 High Street was the first meeting place of the Borough Council. Two rooms were hired to serve as municipal offices. It remained the official town hall until 1894.
The new church was extended so it could seat 650 people.
A further extension was built to accommodate the growing Sunday School at 250 High Street.
A new Sunday School was built next to the original church, and the original building became offices that were rented. Occupants included jewellers and an auctioneer and estate agent.
Spire on current church demolished due to safety concerns.
The Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational Union churches came together to form the Uniting Church in Australia.
Home to the Coptic Orthodox Church. (UCA Services were suspended during this time)
Uniting Church evening worship services resumed. Previously the parish evening services were held at Prince of Wales Park, then Rossmoyne Street. The cross positioned below the organ came from Rossmoyne St.
A Parish/Presbytery consultation process was undertaken to develop a Parish Mission Strategy.
Presbytery suggested separating out High St as an autonomous mission project with separate responsibility and finances from the rest of the parish.
A Presbytery/High St committee was established to develop and manage High St as an autonomous project, sponsored by the Presbytery of Yarra Valley with some initial finance from the Synod Board of Mission and Resourcing including the appointment of a project worker.