The Civic Hall historical walk

Doveton St N, Ballarat VIC 3350, Australia

The Civic Hall historical walk

Doveton St N, Ballarat VIC 3350, Australia
Staff Pick
44 m
2.99 km
Intermediate

Summary

The first part of the walk is a circuit of the immediate block of the Civic Hall site. The second part travels past related sites in Ballarat's Arts & Heritage precinct.

The Civic Hall historical walk

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Description

This walk provides an introduction to the Civic Hall itself, as well as viewing related sites including other buildings its architects worked on and the sites of two large public halls that preceded the Civic Hall.

The tour goes down Mair, Doveton, Market, Armstrong, Mair, Lydiard North, Sturt, Grenville, Bridge, Little Bridge, Sturt, Lydiard South, Sturt and Doveton Streets.

Images 1 (photographer Archibald Vincent Smith), 2 (Rose Stereograph), 13 (John T. Collins), 15 (Rose Stereograph), 18 (Victorian Railways) from the collection State Library of Victoria. Images 7 & 11 Judith Buchanan.

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Points of Interest

1. 1. Site of Ballarat's old haymarket (Doveton/Market/Armstrong/Mair block)

This has long been a public and central meeting place - situated at the junction of roads, and a few minutes from rail transport and Ballarat's key cultural and civic institutions.

2. 2. The Civic Hall, 300 Mair St, built 1953-1956

Multi-purpose venue, with monumental presence. Steel frame, local Selkirks bricks. Main Hall holds c. 1600, Performers included INXS. Closed 2002, reopened 2014 for community design process.

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3. 3. Statue of playwright William Shakespeare by Andor Meszaros, by 300 Mair St

Statue added to front of hall 1960 depicts Shakespeare receiving applause after a performance. Hungarian visitor Karoly Nagy was so impressed he organised a replica for Budapest unveiled 2003.

4. 4. Ginkgo trees planted by Sir Paul & Lady Hasluck 1972, western end skate park

Planted during Vice-regal visit, the trees are of the ancient Ginkgo biloba species (Maidenhair tree), native to China, called living fossils as similar to fossils dating back 270 million years.

5. 5. Statue of Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott by Stanley Hammond, by 300 Mair St

The centenary of gold celebrations in the early 1950s gave a renewed push to plans for a new Civic Hall so it is fitting that both the Scott & Shakespeare statues record links to Goldrush times.

6. 6. Lower Hall entrance, Doveton St

The architects of the hall made clever use of the fall of the ground on the site from West to East to build the foyer of the Lower Hall under the stage of the Main Hall. Note messages on doors.

7. 7. View of fly tower, Doveton St

The tall tower like structure at the northern end of the hall is the Fly Tower. This is the part of the building designed to store and launch the sets for large scale theatrical productions.

8. 8. Ballarat Library upper story offices, Market St

The relationship with the Civic Hall was considered during the design of the Ballarat Library built 1993-1994, The upper story offices echoes the brickwork of the Civic Hall.

9. 9. Mural, Civic Hall/Library Car Park, off Market St

A colourful public art mural has been created on the back wall of the carpark. The mural was painted in 2013 by local youth working alongside professional artist Pauline O'Shannessy-Dowling.

10. 10. View to railway precinct, cnr Market & Armstrong St

The proximity to the Provincial Hotel and Railway Station beyond it is evident from this corner of the site.

11. 11. Skate park, Armstrong St

The skate park was the initiative of a young Ballarat skater and was added to the site in the 1990s. A replacement skate park was built at the Len T Fraser reserve in 2004 but this remains popular.

12. 12. Regent Cinema, 49 Lydiard St Nth

The cinema's interior was rebuilt in 1943 to the design of Cowper, Murphy & Appleford after a major fire attributed to visiting American service personnel. Murphy was later co-architect Civic Hall.

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13. 13. Mair to Sturt Block, Lydiard St Nth, east side

This block is now one of the most treasured in Ballarat encompassing Victorian era architectural gems. However records show that in the 1940s this was one site proposed for a new civic hall.

14. 14. Site of Alfred Hall, Cnr Curtis & Grenville Sts, demolished 1956

Site of a predecessor of the Civic Hall, constructed n 1867 on the boundaries of East & West Ballarat for Ballarat's first royal visitor and formally closed on the day the Civic Hall opened.

15. 15. Former Walter Davis store, 86 Bridge Mall

An example of the commercial work of Civic Hall architect Les Coburn who remodelled the store in 1935 with distinctive art deco features. Coburn was known for both his commercial & residential work.

16. 16. Site of Coliseum, Little Bridge Street (vicinity Ballarat Senior Citizen's Centre)

Another very large hall (capacity up to 10,000) owned by the South Street Society and used for society & civic events. It burnt down in 1936 creating impetus for the building of a new public hall.

17. 17. Her Majesty's Theatre ('Her Maj'),17 Lydiard St South

Historic theatre first opened in 1875. The history of the Civic Hall intersected with that of 'Her Maj' from 1990 - 2002 as the City of Ballarat combined management of the two facilities.

18. 18. Ballarat Town Hall, 225 Sturt St

The eventual design of the Civic Hall was innovative in separating hall facilities and the Council admin offices. Architect Les Coburn was greatly interested in civic matters as long-time Councillor.

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19. 19. Block Arcade, 321 Sturt St

The Sturt Street entrance of the Block Arcade was remodelled by Les Coburn in 1937. Look up to the first floor to get the best view of this work, the stylised parapet and lettering.

20. 20. State Government Offices, Cnr Mair & Doveton Streets

To the west of the Civic Hall is another public building - the State Government Offices opened in 1981 and known as "The Glass House" because of its distinctive glass curtain wall design.

Features

Historical Interest Historical Interest
Art and Culture Art and Culture
Park(s)/Garden(s) Park(s)/Garden(s)
Public Transport Public Transport
Seating Available Seating Available
Public toilets Public toilets

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