Many people in the Wonthaggi community are asking for the council to actively help to preserve the historical buildings in town for the future. ms050517

The old bank, standing on the corner of Murray Street and McBride Avenue, is currently being used as a second hand book store. ms060517

WITH a wealth of architectural gems lining local streets, many in Wonthaggi feel that it is important to preserve the historical integrity of the town for generations to come.
That’s what some people are telling the Bass Coast Shire Council, as part of their community engagement process.
Looking after and retaining the towns’ historically significant buildings emerged as a popular topic of discussion at a Bass Coast Shire Council community engagement session held on Tuesday, January 25.
Many people put forth that the buildings and rich heritage of the town was important for the future success of Wonthaggi.
Sam Gatto from the Wonthaggi Historical Society said that preserving what is left in town is important, considering how much has already been lost.
“The face of the town really changed in the 1970s when the council decided the remove the verandas. So much has been lost already,” Sam said.
“At the time, the only building able to be saved from this change was the Wonthaggi Hotel. The historical society and the owners at the time were able to save the building and keep it as it is now.”
Walking around town, it is at times difficult to imagine the town as it once was during its mining heyday.
Many of the buildings from this time are now in private hands, tucked away from public view.
“The miner managers’ residence building still exists, but it’s a private house at the moment. At one time, there was a great big park around it, which was very significant because it was a symbol of the power that the general manager had at the time in the town and at the mine,” Sam said.
“Another important building that was lost, was the co-op bakery building that was pulled down in recent years. The co-op was established in 1912, and it was one of the only consumer co-ops in Victoria at the time.
“It was very significant because the co-op was an important part of the lives of the Wonthaggi people at the time, especially the working class.
“The whole character of the town has been changed. The town centre doesn’t have the heart it used to. Whether it’s the buildings themselves or just the changes, I don’t know.”
There are still some gems of the old days left standing in the township, and it’s these buildings that people are hoping the council will actively work towards preserving for future generations.
“There’s the old bank building opposite the Wonthaggi Hotel, and the hotel itself; the Plaza Arcade, which had one of the original halls of the town; and the building on the corner of Graham Street and McBride Avenue,” Sam said.
“It is important to retain these so the people know where we came from. So we have a sense of belonging, a sense that we are part of the history of the place.“