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Salvation Army Temple

Heritage Listed Location


65-71 Bourke Street Melbourne, Melbourne City, Victoria, Australia

Places Nearby

Melbourne, 3000 0.3km Southbank, 3006 1.4km Fitzroy, 3065 1.5km Collingwood, 3066 1.9km Richmond South, 3121 2.2km

Details / Significance

What is significant?
The Salvation Army Temple was designed by the architects Billing & Son in association with architects Oakden, Addison & Kemp. The building was constructed of load bearing brick with iron columns and beams supporting the main staircase and auditorium floor and gallery. The main facade is stuccoed. The building was erected for the Young Mens? Christian Association, but due to financial difficulties it was taken over by the Savings Bank Commissioners and subsequently purchased by the Salvation Army for 19,500 pounds in October 1894. The building was dedicated the January 1895 as the Salvation Army?s Australasian Headquarters and Central Barracks. It now operates as the Army?s Southern Territorial Headquarters.

Externally the building incorporates architectural elements from the French Second Empire style. The four storeys terminate with an attic storey and picturesque roofline of Mansard roofs, dormer windows and decorative parapet of urns, bullseyes and a pediment. The five bay facade consists almost entirely of windows, with a profusion of segmental pediments, festoons and half-fluted Corinthian pilasters. The central bay is corbelled out at the second and third storeys and is capped by a Baroque style pediment on the parapet. A pair of cast iron gates and a frieze give access to the foyer area. The gates were forged in 1890 by the firm of P A Weston of Melbourne.

The main stair has wide slate stairs and ornate cast iron balustrades with large wrought iron brackets. The first storey landing gives access to the floor of the auditorium. The auditorium is the central area of the Salvation Army Temple and contains a large stage, seating area and a raised gallery to three sides supported by cast iron columns with Corinthian capitals. It is lit by two levels of stained glass windows. The auditorium is dominated by a fine Kauri pine barrel vaulted ceiling.

On the rooftop is located the attic photographic studio built in timber and created between c1895-1897. This was the home of the Salvation Army?s Limelight Department, who used the attic for producing and colouring lantern slides and photographs. On one wall are stencilled the words ?Coloring Studio?. The attic was the location for the production of the 1900 multi-media presentation entitled ?Soldiers of the Cross?. ?Soldiers of the Cross? was a production that ran for about two and a half hours, used 200 lantern slides and about 3000 feet of film depicting the treatment of the early Christians in Rome.

In 1898 a purpose-built movie studio was added into the top floor at the rear of the building. It was lit from the top and sides by glass to provide adequate natural light for filming and included a dark room studio for editing films. The space is now considerably modernised and the original doorways have been bricked up. The west side of this area was occupied by offices, now incorporated into the stairwell. As the first major film production unit in Australia, the Limelight Department was commissioned to film the two major public events of Federation: the inauguration of the Australian Commonwealth in Sydney on January 1 1901 and the procession and flag raising of the first Federal Parliament at the Melbourne Exhibition Building on 9 May 1901.

How is it significant?
The Salvation Army Temple is of social, architectural and historical significance to the State of Victoria.

Why is it significant?
The Salvation Army Temple is socially significant as the focal point of the Salvation Army in Melbourne since it became the Australasian Headquarters in January 1895. The Salvation Army?s newspapers the ?War Cry? and ?Young Soldier? were printed on machinery in the basement from 1895 until 1902. The building has a continuous association with charitable work, from its origins as the Young Mens? Christian Association headquarters in 1890 to the continuing work of the Salvation Army in the centre of Melbourne today. The galleried auditorium demonstrates the Salvation Army?s requirement for a meeting and rallying space.

The Salvation Army Temple is historically significant as the home of the Limelight Department. The Limelight Department successfully used glass slides as part of their music and oratory lectures all around Australia from the early 1890s. The success of the Limelight Department led to the establishment of the first viable commercial film production unit (1897) in Australia. The Salvation Army Temple was the site of the first Australian purpose-built film studio in February 1898. In 1901 the Salvation Army registered the first Australian film production company ? the Australian Kinematographic Company. The building was the site for the 1900 production of ?Soldiers of the Cross?, a hugely popular lantern slide and film presentation first shown in September 1900 to 4000 people at Melbourne Town Hall.

The Salvation Army Temple is architecturally significant as an example of the high Victorian style drawing extensively on the architecture of the French Second Empire. The range of window styles and sizes, the facade decoration of pediments and pilasters and the steeply raked flanking mansard roofs clearly mark the building as an excellent extant example of its type. The use of cast iron columns and beams internally to support the main staircase and the gallery to the auditorium demonstrates the gradual emergence of structural iron within high rise buildings in Melbourne.

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1 former salvation army temple bourke street melbourne front view jan1979
salvation army temple bourke street h436 extent april 2000
Salvation Army Temple Bourke Street Extent Of Registration Plan March 2000

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