New hope to save Traralgon heritage church

The former Methodist church building in Traralgon is one of only five pre-1880 timber churches left in Gippsland. file photograph

Michelle Slater

HERITAGE planners have recommended that Latrobe City explore the feasibility of relocating a 140-year-old former Methodist church building in Traralgon that had been slated for demolition.

Latrobe City had received a heritage assessment into the 1879 church building that had been the Visitor Information Centre at the Traralgon train station.

Heritage planner David Helms found that the building was of local historic and representative significance to Latrobe City.

He recommended that a peer-review be carried out into a 2021 building condition assessment to gain a better understanding of the costs and challenges associated with repairing the building.

He said the review should be done by a consultant who was experienced in maintaining and repairing heritage buildings.

It was also recommended that Latrobe City should explore relocating the former church within Traralgon and ideally, close to the historic town centre.

Several other recommendations were made as part of the assessment, which covered the history of the building, its features, condition and interim management guidelines.

Regional historian Linda Barraclough found that the building was only one of five pre-1880 timber churches left in Gippsland.

Ms Barraclough said she was pleased the report was being made public just as the issue was being opened up for further consultation.

“We are hoping further down the line that a use can be found for the building, it should have some sort of heritage overlay on it to protect the building,” Ms Barraclough said.

“I’d like to see it stay where it is and a viable use found for it, but if it must be moved, then it should stay in the Traralgon business area.”

Latrobe City had last year decided to demolish the building which sits on state government land, to make way for Traralgon train station upgrades.

However, the plan received community opposition and Latrobe City then decided to carry out further options for the former church.

Latrobe City mayor Kellie O’Callaghan encouraged the community to review the report, as council considered the building’s future in line with the recommendations.