By Rebecca Peppiatt
RUMOURS a 112-year-old Mount Helena church is being demolished were quashed this week after community members rallied yet again to save the historically significant building.
St Mark’s Anglican Church, on the corner of Keane and Ealy Streets, is not yet facing the chop but years after a fight began to restore the building and retain its heritage, decisions are no closer to being made about its future.
Local historian Owen Briffa created a Facebook page, Save St Mark’s Anglican Church Mount Helena, to rally support and has been fighting to save it for two years.
“The church has been vandalised again in the last few weeks and then I did hear they were going to tear it down and put a photographic panel up instead,” he said.
“It’s sad because it’s just sat there abandoned, despite being a major part of the community for so long.”
A Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage spokesperson this week told Echo News there were no plans to demolish the church building and they were seeking interest from the Shire of Mundaring regarding “the potential management of the site for community use”.
However, Shire chief executive Jonathan Throssell said that would be unlikely to happen.
“Unfortunately, it is the Shire’s position that restoration or relocation of the building is significantly cost prohibitive at this time,” he said.
“The Shire has had discussions with Jessica Shaw and is open to the State Government keeping St Mark’s in public ownership, noting that the Shire does not have the capacity to restore or relocate it.
“Ultimately, whether the building can be retained is a matter for the State Government to determine.”
Member for Swan Hills, Jessica Shaw, who is also the Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism, Culture and the Arts and Heritage, said she would do all she could to find a way for the history of the building to be preserved.
“I am currently exploring a lot of options for the church and have had discussions with the Shire president and chief executive about it,” she said.
“I’m trying to get to the bottom of what the status of the block of land is and once I know, we can try and get a plan in place.”
The church was consecrated on April 26, 1907 but was relocated from Chidlow Street and placed at its current location in 1930.
In January 2012 it was deconsecrated and has since been a popular target for vandals.
The land was owned by the Anglican Diocese of Perth until 2019 when it was surrendered back to the State.
A public meeting is being held on September 28 at 6.30pm at the Elsie Austin Oval Pavillion in Mount Helena to discuss its future.