St Michael's Church Restoration
Lovell Chen Architects
This $2m logistically challenging project was completed in 2006 and involved the complete restoration of the facade of this National Trust heritage listed church.
The original chapel was built in 1839 and was the first permanent building constructed expressly as a church in the Port Phillip Settlement. The church was founded by Congregationalists (also known as Independents). The chapel served the townsfolk and the farming community in the vicinity.
The church was designed by Joseph Reed who also designed The Melbourne Town Hall and The Exhibition Building (Kane Constructions has completed restoration works at both). The church is classified by the National Trust with the highest heritage rating.
Works consisted primarily of restoration of the limestone masonry façade and slate roof. Limestone was imported from New Zealand from the same quarry that the original stone was sourced from. Damaged sections of the original stone were removed and new sections carved and replaced.
As the original tower finials had been incorrectly repaired several decades earlier, photographs of the original stonework to the tower were examined and new sections of stone installed to match the original design for the tower. The existing slate roof was also replaced with Welsh slate from the original source.
The main tower was leaning out of plumb by 450mm - the Kane Project Team arranged for it to braced and then straightened using hydraulic jacks and the services of a licensed surveyor positioned on the adjacent rooftop to ensure the tower was plumb on completion.
Other works on the project included the installation of a Vesda fire detection system, installation of electric winches for the chandeliers, repair of the existing access ladders to the spire and refurbishment of the toilets and vestry.
Due to the location being on a busy intersection in the Melbourne CBD, works had to be carefully planned and co-ordinated to minimise any disruption. The church remained open to the public through construction.