Architect: Evander McIver, 1901
Built in 1901 for the new Borough of Flemington and Kensington, this impressive Victorian Italianate building served as the town hall for a brief five years. Since then it has been a picture theatre, WW2 command post, influenza hospital, ballet and circus school, legal centre, and finally, a community venue.
Kensington Town Hall represents one of the few defunct municipalities in Victoria. Not long after the building’s construction, the residents of Kensington and Flemington amalgamated with the City of Melbourne in 1905, leaving the former municipal hall vacant. During its lifetime, the building has housed an early picture theatre, library, and a maternal and child health centre. During WW2 it was a command post for the armed services, who reportedly built an entrance to a ‘strategic bunker’ from the basement. After WW2 it was used as a hospital during the Spanish Influenza epidemic, a rehearsal space for Circus Oz, and it was also home to the Ballet Theatre Australia.
After falling into disrepair, it was reopened after a $4.8 million restoration in 2015. Owned by the City of Melbourne and managed in partnership with YMCA, the building is now a busy centre for community-run meetings, workshops and events.
Photo: Andrew Evans