Shepparton’s icon gets another chance at life
A bold plan to build a replica of the iconic building of the original Shepparton Post Office in the city center has been announced with the launch of a fundraising campaign to raise at least $ 5 million for the project.
Shepparton Heritage Center director and committee member Geoff Allemand said the plan, named Project Rebuild, was the result of two years of consultation with Greater Shepparton City Council.
“We’ve been working with the planning department for two years and pretty much ticked all the boxes. We are just waiting for the soil tests to be completed, ”said German.
He said the replica of the 19th-century two-story post office with original tower and clock would be built on the current site of the Heritage Center museum at the corner of High and Welsford streets.
The replica of the post office would replace the weather chalet built in 1995.
Mr Allemand said a recent discovery made the project even more important.
“What makes this project even more exciting is that this site was the site of Shepparton’s first post office. The punt was on this side of the river and we have pretty much all the pieces of the puzzle confirming that this was the humble start of our first post office, ”said German.
The distinctive red brick post office with clock and steeple was built on the corner of Fraser and Wyndham streets in 1882.
The Post Office demolished the historic monument, despite opposition from the council, in 1973 to make way for a more modern rectangular building that now houses government agencies and telecommunications offices on the site.
Mr Allemand said the heritage center committee planned to reconstruct the original two floors, including the entrance, pillars, clock tower and front public service areas, but without the spaces of storage and office in the back.
“What you see in the photos is what you get – but without all the depth of the original building. But the public never entered it anyway,” he said.
He said the reconstruction would be part of a new heritage center complex.
This would allow new facilities for the Lost Shepparton Shop, the Shepparton Family History Group and new spaces for an expanded museum with areas for postal and judicial history, immigration and family history.
A conference room for school groups and other visitors to learn about the history of the Goulburn Valley is also planned.
A one-story basement would also be created to store the museum’s growing collection of archives and artifacts.
The Shepparton Heritage Center museum already has the original tower clock and bell, while committee members now stock up on materials used in the original building which were salvaged by locals during the demolition work.
Mr Allemand said the original entrance steps would be used and several hundred original slate tiles came from a farm in Bunbartha.
He said most people had been happy to give up pieces of the original building that they had collected.
“The two front pillars are in Tom Brain’s hangar, as well as the ceiling rose – and he said we can have them, so it’s fantastic,” he said.
“We think there is a lot more out there, like pieces of furniture and items from the old post office,” he said.
Mr Allemand said that the chairman of the committee, Geoff Maynard, was an architect who had drawn up plans for the reconstruction, based on original architectural drawings from 1882.
He said a significant portion of the cost of construction would be an elevator that meets modern safety and compliance rules.
“We can’t build it exactly the way it was internally due to changing design and structural rules. You can’t just have steps to go up to the first floor, and the entrance should have handrails, ”he said.
He said $ 5 million was an initial target figure for the project.
“We will be leveraging a combination of government grants, local sponsorships and a grassroots GoFundMe campaign. We’re also looking at a “fan-funded” program where people pay $ 2 a week so people can follow the project, ”he said.
Mr Allemand, who spearheaded the creation of the now iconic Ardmona KidsTown in the 1990s, and went on to set up the Lost Shepparton store and online gallery, believes the reconstruction of the Shepparton post office would ignite the imaginations of Sheppartonians.
“I am extremely proud that the heritage center committee has agreed to take on this task. I know there are hundreds if not thousands of people and expats all over Australia and even the world who would love to make this happen.
“We would like people to support us, spread the word and get this front and center – even in the national conversation. I don’t think anyone has tried this type of project in Australia before. Shepparton is doing something quite remarkable, ”he said.