Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Sandringham’s Freemason’s lodge scores heritage protection for its epic Egyptian architecture | Leader

Sandringham's Freemason's lodge scores heritage protection for its epic Egyptian architecture

THE Sandringham Masonic Hall has been listed by Heritage Victoria for its Egyptian-based architectural, cultural and historical significance.

The Abbott St centre is now classed as a Heritage Place in the Victorian Heritage Register and is protected from demolition or development, unless prior approval has been granted.

Built in 1931, the two-storey building is classed as a distinctive example of the unusual but recognised "Egyptian Revival" architecture.

Heritage Victoria's report states that the hall is quite rare and should be protected.

"The adoption of the Egyptian Revival style demonstrates the ideological link between Freemasonry and ancient Egypt," it states.

This is in Egypt …
… and this isn't.

"It reflects both the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb in 1922 and the return of Australian soldiers from World War I with Egyptian objects displaying such motifs as the winged disc.

"Sandringham Masonic Hall has clear associations with Freemasonry which played an important cultural role in Victoria; this association is evident in the physical fabric and documentary resources."

The listing covers the entire block which includes the forecourt and rear car park and ceilings, walls, doorways and stained glass.

Sandringham Historical Society's Olivia Abbay said the heritage classification was a "marvellous thing".

"We're very happy, it is something we support and celebrate, it's a rare and very intact building," she said.

Entrance to the Sandringham Masonic Hall, showing palmiform capitals and obelisks. Picture: Heritage Victoria
Stylised Egyptian column motif in the entrance grille at the Sandringham Masonic Hall. Picture: Heritage Victoria

Bayside city planning and amenity director Shiran Wickramasinghe said it was "a positive outcome".

"Bayside has a rich history and heritage, which our community takes great pride and council has an important role in helping to protect significant heritage sites for current and future generations," he said.

But the Freemasons themselves were more restrained.

In an emailed statement, Freemasons Victoria Grand Secretary Peter Henshall said they "acknowledged" the heritage listing of the Sandringham centre and will "continue to work co-operatively with the relevant authorities in respect of the building's ongoing use and maintenance".

Detail of the Lodge Room decoration at the Sandringham Masonic Hall. Picture: Heritage Victoria
The front of the Lodge Room in the Sandringham Masonic Hall. Picture: Heritage Victoria

The listing imposes many restrictions on the building not there before.

"Under the Heritage Act (1955) a person must not remove or demolish, damage or despoil, develop or alter or excavate, relocate or disturb the position of any part of a registered place or object without approval," the report stated.