A historic abandoned church in Stockyard Hill has been demolished to make space for the massive Stockyard Hill Wind Farm.
The site has now become part of the site office, with truck parking.
Minutes from the project’s community reference group in July 2018 indicate Goldwind, the company building the wind farm, bought the Stockyard Hill Road block in 2009.
Publicly accessible real estate information reveals the site sold for $686,657 in January 2009.
There was no heritage overlay over the site, Heritage Victoria confirmed.
Information from the State Library of Victoria indicates it was the Presbyterian St Andrew’s Church, with a distinctive parapet.
A foundation stone recovered from the site reveals it was opened on October 21, 1902.
“The site area where the Church was located was considered as part of the Amended Planning Permit for the Stockyard Hill Wind Farm that was approved in 2017,” a spokesperson from Goldwind said in a statement.
“The Building Permit which forms the ‘Demolition Permit’ for the Church was approved by the Pyrenees Shire Council.”
Documents from the Presbyterian Church of Victoria’s 2016 general assembly notes the Stockyard Hill congregation had not met since 1997, and the church was first sold in 2000.
“It is therefore overdue and necessary for the dissolution of the congregation to be dealt with by the General Assembly and the presbytery,” a petition to the assembly reads.
Goldwind has committed to establishing a memorial on the grounds.
“In the coming months, the operations and maintenance facility for the wind farm will be built on the site location where the Church was removed,” the spokesperson said.
“It’s intended for a memorial to be constructed alongside the operations and maintenance facility to recognise the history of the site.”
Some nearby residents have expressed frustration at the loss of community heritage, while others pointed out the building had been unused for several years.
Robina Tayler lived in the area for many years, and now lives in Beaufort. She said she remembered going to Sunday School at the church.
“Our family lived on the east side of the church, we had property surrounding the church," she said, adding her relatives donated the land for the church.
“The last time the church was used was for a wedding in 1997.
“To be perfectly honest, if anything was to be done with it, before it was sold privately, if something could have been done it would have been wonderful, but it didn’t happen.”
The church was an important part of life in the district for several years – Ms Tayler said there was also a hall and a tennis court.
“In the ’50s and ’60s, it was massive – a lot of soldier settler farms, and a lot of kids growing up, the church was always full,” she said.
“There’s a lot of good history about it, but nothing stays the same.”
The spokesperson added construction was well under way.
“The Stockyard Hill Wind Farm project is progressing with 52 Goldwind wind turbines having commenced installation with 30 turbines fully installed, access tracks constructed and all concrete foundations for wind turbines aimed to be completed shortly,” the spokesperson said.
“The project is aimed to commence first energy generation early next year.”
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