I've kept this blog, on and off, since 2006. In 2015 I used it to chart daily encounters, images, thoughts and feelings about volcanic basalt/bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria, especially in the first part of the year. I plan to write a book provisionally titled Bluestone: An Emotional History, about human uses of and feelings for bluestone. But I am also working on quite a few other projects and a big grant application, especially now I am on research leave. I'm working mostly from home, then, for six months, and will need online sociability for company!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My Year with Bluestone: Second Wesleyan Methodist Chapel

We regularly drive past this chapel on the way to the airport or the Coburg aquarium. Today I drove past again and on the day I notice its distinctive disposition of stones I don't have my trusty phone with me.

This is the Second Wesleyan Methodist Chapel on the corner of Bell St and Sydney Rd, just a block or so south of Pentridge Prison. Designed by Thomas Crouch (who with Ralph Wilson designed up to 40 Wesleyan churches in Victoria, Tasmania and New Zealand [according to Goad and Willis' Encyclopedia of Australian Architecture]) and built in 1849, it is "one of the earliest extant bluestone buildings in Victoria."

What struck me for the first time today was the very usual pattern of the bluestone. Instead of square or rectangular blocks laid in horizontal rows, this features what I think of as the Easter egg pattern or what the "on my doorstep" heritage site describes as "unusual random rubble stonework" and what the Heritage Council Victorian government site describes more formally as "a rare example of uncoursed irregular bluestone construction" or "rare randomly laid bluestone". The mortar has been "repointed in a grey-blue colour" which makes the pattern hard to see on this photograph: the first of the conservation guidelines on this site suggests removing this paint from the rendered dressings.

If this coloured mortar were removed, I wonder if this unusual random patterning would be more or less evident?

I see on some websites it is listed as a Fijian chapel now. 

I will have to get up there again with my phone to take a more detailed photo, but it's interesting that this very old church has the more "randomly laid" pattern. I would have thought this would be technically quite demanding to build. 

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