Restoration works uncover historic secrets
Published on 02 September 2021
Restoration works currently underway on the Chiltern Athenaeum have revealed colours and materials that date back to the original 1866 finishes, as well as a handwritten sign on the outside of the building.
Indigo Shire Council’s heritage advisor Deborah Kemp was on-site this week to investigate the significance of the findings, in particular the sign which shows the words “Chiltern Athenaeum” with an embellishment between the two words.
A decision to how best to restore the sign will be made upon these further investigations.
Indigo Shire Mayor, Jenny O’Connor says that a find like this clearly illustrates why preserving and maintaining the Shire’s cultural heritage is a priority.
“The Chiltern Athenaeum is a significant cultural heritage site, so its preservation is incredibly important for our community, as well as for future generations.”
The Athenaeum is of historical importance for its role in Victoria's goldmining history, with the Chiltern district one of the most important gold producing areas in the colony. The Athenaeum was the centre of local government activity in the region during that period.
Councillor O’Connor says that this week’s discovery is already helping to educate the restoration team in ensuring that upon completion, the Athenaeum is restored to as close to its original finishes as possible.
The works are being carried out to secure the building's structural integrity and longevity and will be completed over the next 12 to 15 months and the Chiltern Athenaeum Restoration Project is supported by a grant provided by the Victorian Government through the Living Heritage Program as well as a contribution from Indigo Shire Council.
“We know that in restoring this well-loved facility, we are honouring the past and also opening a new chapter in the building’s history. It will not only continue to be a beloved community asset, but also a key tourist destination.” Mayor O’Connor said.
The Athenaeum is currently closed for the first stage of these works.