Elmore Memorial Hall & Athenaeum Hall


Author: Western Front Association Central Victoria Branch

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Heritage Registration Number H1744

The Elmore Hall Complex commenced on this site in 1866 with the erection of the first government school, The Elmore Common School, which is now the kitchen of the complex.  It was closed in 1875 when The Mechanics Institute of Victoria took over.

The library was moved from The Athenaeum Hall into this building which in turn was acquired and operated by The Elmore Library Committee until 1965.  The library was replaced by a mobile library service, sponsored by the then Shire of Huntly but is now operated by The City of Greater Bendigo.

In 1965, it was rebuilt into the hall kitchen, replacing the old wooden lean-to attached to the north side of the supper room.

The Athenaeum Hall

In 1885, The Athenaeum Hall was built at a cost of 800 pounds. ($1,600.00).  It was designed by W. C. Vahland and built by Mr G. Galbraith.

Throughout its life, it served as a Hall for public entertainment, Church Services, by the Church of England and Presbyterian Church, Library, Library Club Rooms, Billiard Room with four tables from 1924 to 1965.  It was used as a Scout Hall room from 1970 to 1980.

As the building became unused and vacant in 1982, it was vandalised and under threat of demolition so a small committee of nine members was formed and called, “The Save The Athenaeum Hall Committee,” to restore the hall to its original glory and re-opened in 2002.

The Supper Room

In 1912, The Supper Room was added to the present kitchen for use as a public hall and contained three billiard tables.  In about 1926, A timber and weather board kitchen was attached to the North, (demolished about 1980) the supper room and kitchen now services both halls.

The Memorial Halll commonly called The Main Hall

In 1920, it was proposed to build a Memorial to the local service men of World War I and to provide work for some of the returned service men.  The design of the hall is unique as it is built of reinforced concrete mixed on site by hand and mixer, to combat cracking which occurs in brick buildings in this area.  Inside, a movie film projector box was built in the front in a second storey.  This was forward thinking as movies was then in its infancy.  The hall was used as a picture theatre until the advent of television.  The projector box is still intact and operable if movies came back into vogue.

The Hall complex is used for all community functions, dances, balls, schools and theatre groups. When the restoration of The Athenaeum Hall was taking place, it was decided to join all these buildings together by a glass vestibule from The Athenaeum Hall to the kitchen.  The complex is considered the biggest Hall Complex in Regional Australia and the fact that it has three generations of halls, all on their original sites and still operating is worthy of note.

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