No. 123 - The Church That Was Never Built

The former Trinity Uniting (Methodist) Church on Balfour Street is an unusual building in that it does not present the typical architectural features associated with a church. In 1889 it was built as the Methodist Sunday school building on Balfour Street and in 1918 it was converted into a church. 

In 1911 Tasmanian architect Alexander North put forward plans for an new Methodist church on Margaret Street. For reasons which are not clear, North's design did not proceed and instead in 1918 the old Wesleyan chapel on Margaret Street was converted into a Sunday school and the Balfour Street Sunday school was modified to become a church.

Alexander North's plans however found another purpose. North used the Margaret Street design for a commission for a church at Trinity College in Melbourne. There is more than a passing resemblance between the Trinity College Chapel at the University of Melbourne and North's concept design for the Margaret Street Church.

Some notes on the Trinity College Chapel

Trinity College Chapel was designed by Tasmanian architect Alexander North and opened in 1917. The building was funded by Melbourne businessman John Sutcliffe Horsfall in memory of his daughter Edith Carington.

North used native timbers, particularly Tasmanian oak, and local materials exclusively throughout the Chapel’s interior. He depicted native flora and fauna in the decorative woodwork, replacing traditional English and Anglican emblems and motifs with depictions of eucalyptus leaves and waratah flowers in art nouveau style. Carved possums, platypuses and bandicoots attributed to the leading Australian woodcarver Robert Prenzel are depicted on the armrests of the pews.

source: Trinity College Chapel University of Melbourne

A design by Alexander North for the "Trinity Methodist Church" on Margaret Street. Photo from LINC Tasmania LPIC147-2-00202

The facade built onto the old Sunday School when it was converted into a church in 1889.  Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

               Trinity College Chapel University of Melbourne (photo from wiki commons)



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