Former RSL site to be developed
GLADSTONE residents have less than a year left to admire what is left of the oldest building still standing in the town.
The old Gladstone Town Hall, built in 1868, at 7-9 Goondoon Street, was redeveloped to the now former RSL building in the mid 1930s.
The site is now the subject of a planning development, with a demolition approval granted by Gladstone Regional Council in March 2009.
The demolition approval is valid for a two-year period, meaning if the development goes ahead, there is less than a year left.
Gladstone historian Paulette Flint said it would be very sad to see the structure demolished.
“I tried to heritage-list it, but the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency – now known as the Department of Environment and Resource Management) knocked it back on the grounds that there were only remnants of it.
“It’s the oldest building still standing in Gladstone.
“It was the first public building built in Gladstone.
“The oldest heritage-listed building in Gladstone was built in 1901, the Kullaroo House.”
The building served as the civic administration centre for about 64 years.
“It’s just a wonderful relic of the early days of Gladstone,” Ms Flint said.
The foundation stone for the original Gladstone Town Hall was laid on the site on November 28, 1868, and completed in 1869.
There are original walls in the current structure.
The original structure consisted of one room and two committee rooms. In 1869, verandas were added to two sides of the building for use as retiring and refreshment rooms.
In the same year, the building was used for dances by the Gladstone Quadrille Society, and Mr Perkins gave piano lessons, paying rent of five shillings a week.
In 1873, the School of Arts was given permission to use a veranda for its reading room and borrowing library, until a new School of Arts building was built further along the street.
The same year, the ‘English Church Community’ was allowed to hold weekly services in the Town Hall for a rental of five shillings on condition that they supplied their own lamps.
They were also granted permission to erect a church bell in the town hall yard. WR Golding A Century of English Church Life: 1860 – 1960 Gladstone, 1960 states towards the end of the year 1874, at a special meeting of parishioners held in the Town Hall for the purpose of exercising the right of the parish to elect synodsmen to represent Gladstone
The local Dramatic Society also used it in the early years as a place for rehearsals.
The Town Hall continued to be used by the Town Council until 1934 when a new Town Hall was construction on the corner of Goondoon and Bramston Street, presently occupied by the Gladstone Regional Art Gallery and Museum. Some changes were made to the building in this time, such as roofing the verandas, etc.
In 1946, the lease for the building was surrendered to the RSL who remained in possession until 2004 when liquidators took over the building.
In these intervening years various extensions and renovations took place, but the basic shape of the 1868 Town Hall is still discernible in the plan of the building.
In 2007, after the Quarterback Group purchased the property, the Customs House on the corner of Lord and Goondoon streets was demolished.
An application for demolition of the RSL building was approved by council last year.