St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church will receive a facelift courtesy of a $100,000 grant from the Heritage Near me program, MP Thomas George informed churchgoers on Monday, January 29.
The church, built in 1884 on land donated by Tenterfield Station’s WH Walker (who was later father-of-the-bride when his daughter Alice married AB ‘Banjo’ Paterson in 1903), was initially to be a temporary structure. The congregation had been meeting at the Tenterfield School of Arts.
“The church has been a good citizen of the community for 134 years,” Pastor Jim Seymour said at the announcement of the grant.
“It has added value to the community, and with the help of this grant will be an enduring entity.”
With rotting timbers undermining the structure, Pastor Seymour said the grant is timely and through restoration the church should stand for another 100 years, belying its initial ‘temporary’ status. He hopes it will also become more of a community-use venue.
In addition to replacing rotten timbers, the project includes relocation of the existing ramp, new timber stairs and floorcoverings, and repainting both inside and out. Should the budget stretch, some landscaping including a picket fence out front and a post-and-rail fence at the rear – echoing the original look – will be part of the package.
Pastor Seymour said church members want to make the building more inviting again, and are looking forward to a community open day when the project’s completed.
Working with builder Tom Murphy, Tenterfield High School students will also get a first-hand look of a historic renovation project at designated stages throughout the process.
Mr George said the Local Herical Strategic Project grant would assist the community in several ways.
“This grant will be used on a visionary project led by John Bradford in collaboration with Pastor Jim Seymour, Tenterfield Presbyterian Church, Tenterfield Shire Council, Tenterfield High School and local builder Tom Murphy.
“The project involves the repair of the church to allow it to be re-opened and provides onsite educational opportunities for Year 11 carpentry and joinery students at Tenterfield High School.”
Mayor Peter Petty said Tenterfield Council will also offer practical workshops to owners and managers of local heritage items, using the repair of the church as a case study. The Heritage Near Me Program aims to support local communities to enhance and protect their local heritage assets.
For more information on the program, including available grants, visit www.environemnt.bnsw.gov.au/heritage-near-me.