Hobsons Bay Council plans to begin the restoration of one of its iconic buildings, the Williamstown Mechanics Institute, in the coming years.
But what level of refurbishment and amenity may be dependent on external funding.
The building dates back to 1860, when a timber hall, library and reading rooms were built on the site between Electra Street and Melbourne Road.
In 1869, a two-storey stuccoed stone wing with class and reading rooms was built to replace the timber rooms facing Electra Street.
A further addition was built in 1880, which made it one of the largest halls outside central Melbourne at the time.
A caretaker’s cottage was built about 1883 and in 1890, a northern section was added for Masonic lodge meetings.
The Mechanics Institute is probably the second most significant public building in Hobsons Bay, behind the Williamstown Town Hall.
Since the 1950s, the Mechanics Institute has housed the Williamstown Light Opera Club (now called the Williamstown Musical Theatre Company) and the Williamstown Historical Society.
They serve important cultural and historical functions in Williamstown.
I am open to all options for the restoration of the Mechanics Institute but am wary of shortcuts which will compromise its functionality.