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The Wesley Place precinct is filled with historical art and innovative infrastructure – from the 19th century paintings that line the church halls, to the city’s first towering pipe organ.
Through our heritage restoration works, we are ensuring that these cultural items and images will live on and remain in Wesley Place, bringing music and colour for future generations to enjoy.
People, paintings and pipe organs
The Wesley Church building was designed by architect Joseph Reed, who also designed the Melbourne Town Hall and was famed for his English Gothic style and symbolic architecture. He created the Church building in the shape of a cross and caused a bit of a stir at the time with a style very different to the city’s traditional architectural norms.
In fact, the church was full of “firsts” for Melbourne’s early community. For many years, the 53m spire was the tallest structure on the Melbourne skyline, and to this day remains a significant marker of the precinct.
Inside, Australia’s first pipe organ filled the halls with music. Built in Lancashire, England, the organ arrived in Melbourne in September 1842. It was rebuilt in 1987 and to this day remains one of the inner city’s most significant musical artefacts.
Elsewhere in the Church, two famous paintings by famed Australian artist Rupert Bunny (1864-1947) still hang - namely “The Prodigal Son” and “Abraham’s Sacrifice” - both given to the church in 1934. And outside, a statue of John Wesley stands tall in front of the church – a landmark for the precinct, sculpted by the British sculptor Paul Raphael Montford in 1935.
Windows on the world
Some of the site’s most striking artefacts include the church’s stained-glass windows – bold depictions of Wesley Place’s history illuminated by the Melbourne sunshine.
The colourful masterpieces are distributed around the church building walls, commemorating the people and stories that have shaped Wesley Place. Depictions include biblical figures like Saint Luke and Saint Paul– to the leaders of the early settlement, such as Rev. Samuel J. Hoban and Rev. Alexander Edgar.
We look forward to sharing these pieces of history with the Melbourne community for decades to come.