By Jackson Russell
Wandong History Group is now able to undertake crucial repair work to the old St Michael’s Catholic Church, thanks to a $200,000 grant from the State Government’s Living Heritage grants program.
The group has called the church home for the past six years, but urgent works are required to keep the building inhabitable.
The third time was the charm for Wandong History Group, finally receiving funding through the program after three previous attempts.
Additional funding will also be provided by St Patrick’s Parish as St Michael’s was one of seven churches in the Kilmore Parish when it was established in 1849.
Restoration works will include a new roof, improving accessibility, filling cracks and repainting.
The old vestiary will also be underpinned as large cracks have formed around the windows and where the add-on connects to the main building.
Architectural barge boards will be added across the gable, both front and back, to match the original 1892 design.
The group also hopes the grant will allow the floorboards to be polished for the first time.
Wandong History Group president Karen Christensen said the repairs had been needed since the group moved into the building in 2014.
“The condition is just getting worse and the longer it’s not fixed, obviously, the worse it’s getting,” she said.
“Just looking now, we can see changes in the last little while with cracking and things moving so it’ll be good to have it all done.
“Between the grant and the church contribution, hopefully that will be enough to get done everything we want to get done.”
Ms Christensen said the upgrades would allow the group to open to the public more often.
“We’ll obviously use it as our base still, but we’ll be able to have some displays and things set up more permanently here in this building because we’ve got nowhere else to do that,” she said.
“We’ll have an area that can have displays set up and people can come and have a look and do research, so we’ll actually operate as a bit more of a group that can offer something else to the community.
“Hopefully, with the primary school just next door, we can encourage them to come through and look at some of our artefacts and exhibitions.”
Works are expected to begin in January and be completed within four months.