Union Chapel, Bathurst St, Hobart

106 Bathurst St, Hobart. Google Maps.

Now the Playhouse (theatre).


Engraving, 1867

From the Playhouse website:

By 1863 his congregation had grown to such a size that they resolved to build a new church and the land in Bathurst Street was purchased from Joseph Lester with monies donated by friends and members of the congregation.

Henry Bastow, a respected local architect, was asked to design a chapel to suit their requirements, and James Gregory was commissioned to build the Chapel at a cost of £1484. The Foundation Stone was laid on 5th January 1864 by The Hon William Carter MLC, in the presence of the Church officials and a large crowd of onlookers. The Advertiser reported the occasion and gave a full description of the building.

The design of the building, which is Italian in character, has been made to suit the peculiarity of the site. The plan consists of a large nave which is circular at the South end and approached from the street by an open vestibule. Staircases to an end gallery are also arranged from this vestibule. The total length of the building is 85 ft. The platform, which has been substituted for a pulpit, is placed within a small apse at the South end of the Chapel and communicates on each side with a small vestry. The material used is red brick, relieved, however, by the used of brownstone in the construction of the North or principal front, and in the window dressings throughout. A cornice of brick is carried around the whole building at the eaves. The roofs are shingled and the ceiling of the Chapel is formed by plastering beneath the carved ribs of the roof. A bold cornice encircles the building under the ceiling. The seats are low open benches of deal, stained and varnished, and a slight fall toward the platform has been given to the floor. A tower which was originally part of the design has now been omitted. The accommodation provided is for four hundred and ninety persons, but in an emergency six hundred might be seated.

The Rev Simmons remained at the Chapel for thirty-six years until his retirement in 1899. Shortly after his death in 1900, the Chapel became the Helping Hand Mission under the control of the Congregational Union. In July 1935 the building was sold to a small syndicate who then operated the building as the Amuzu Cinema until 1938 ­ one year after the Hobart Repertory Theatre Society purchased the building and renamed it The Playhouse Theatre.



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