The original Kyneton District Hospital is now officially back on the market. The complex is renowned for its classic architecture, a mix of Georgian, Victorian and Gothic styles. The site has been mired in controversy for some time. Development plans presented by both previous owners left much to be desired, and did not proceed. The entire building is covered by a Heritage Overlay.
And it really is time to do something about preserving these wonderful buildings as Lee Lin Chin prescribed back in 2016.
From the Heritage Council of Victoria’s Statement of Significance…
Statement of Significance
What is significant?
Kyneton District Hospital, Simpson Street, Kyneton, was erected in numerous stages, the two storey central bluestone wing being the first of these, erected from 1854 to 1856. Stonemasons Smith and Rogers constructed the building to the designs of architect Gabriel Fleck. Subsequent stages included an additional east wing and mortuary designed by the well known Kyneton architect William Douglas between 1859 and 1861 and further work by Gabriel Fleck in the extension of the west wing in 1864. An emergency ward was constructed separately on the site in 1894 to the designs of architect William Tonks who was also responsible for the addition of a cast iron verandah to the main building in 1910. Of bluestone construction the original building is symmetrical inform and Georgian in character with two flanking wings either side of a two storey central section. The central doorway is arched, with a semi-circular fanlight and arched windows on either side and there is a central pediment at the upper storey. The Georgian design is somewhat masked by the cast iron verandah added in 1910. The mortuary is of random range quarry faced bluestone construction and the emergency ward is of redbrick construction. From its early beginnings the hospital has remained the centre for health care in the Shire.
How is it significant?
Kyneton District Hospital is of historical, social and architectural importance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
Kyneton District Hospital is historically and socially important for its association with Kyneton’s boom activity of the 1850s when the town became a service centre to the surrounding goldmining activity. The hospital is one of the earliest of a group of Victorian country hospitals built between the early 1850s and mid 1860s. The only other country hospital in Victoria that pre-dates it is Port Fairy Hospital, which is less intact than the Kyneton example. The original building designed specifically as a hospital, performed that function for almost 90 years, fulfilling only ancillary needs after completion of the new main ward block in 1942. The different stages of the building’s construction demonstrate the changing needs of the hospital and its development with the history of Kyneton.
Kyneton District Hospital is architecturally important as it demonstrates a range of architectural hands and styles, including Georgian, Gothic and Victorian. Of interest are the Gothic buttressed chimneys added by architect William Douglas contrasting with the Georgian style of the building and the Late Victorian cast-iron lace work added to the building in 1910. The stonemasonry demonstrates skilful craftsmanship with the quarry faced ashlar with drafted margins in the earliest wing of the hospital and random range quarry faced bluestone in the later sections. There were three notable architects involved in its construction Gabriel Fleck (1864 & 1854), William Douglas (1859-61) and William Tonks (1894 & 1910). The former emergency ward is architecturally important as it is relatively unaltered and demonstrates clearly the building/health regulations at the time it was built in 1894.
The original building is now on the market with two hectares of land – it is valued at between $5.75 million and $6.25 million.
This is a building that simply must be saved as it is – intact. The question is how? Kyneton is both a tourist/weekender destination and for some a commute to Melbourne. However, the complex is both extensive and of a different era. It will take some considerable imagination, planning and capital to adequately maintain the property and then develop some form of return on the rather substantial investment that will be required.
Suggestions have included a Wellness Centre, Accommodation (Bed and Breakfast), a Reception Centre, A Winery tasting complex and other food and beverage related activities. Or it could simply become someone’s home – and hopefully the surrounding two hectares be restored rather than subdivided.
Read the report from Domain dated April 2019…
Historic Victorian gold rush-era hospital in Kyneton looking for a buyer with healthy bank balance
It is a property sale that may just be good for the right buyer’s health as well as their bank balance in Kyneton, just an hour north-west of Melbourne.
The old Kyneton District Hospital is on the market and the sale includes the historic bluestone hospital building, no longer in use, and two hectares of land.
The asking price for the property at 67 Simpson Street is between $5.75 million and $6.25 million.
Selling agent Mark Nunn, of Buxton Ballarat, said it was a rare sale with lots of opportunity for the right buyer.
“It’s the first time in nearly 20 years of working in real estate that I’ve had something as rare and unique as this come onto the market,” Mr Nunn said.
“It’s a massive building so there’s lots that could be done.”
The hospital is covered by a heritage overlay. It was originally built in 1856 as Kyneton boomed during Victoria’s gold rush.
It had various additions, including an emergency ward built in the 1890s, and is known as one of the oldest hospital buildings in Victoria.
It is also renowned for its mix of Georgian, Victorian and Gothic architecture.
Kyneton District Hospital’s redevelopment has had a controversial past. Applications to subdivide the land, and use the building for two separate townhouses, met local pushback.
The plans were put forward by developer and current owner Winport Kyneton Pty Ltd who bought the property in 2011, public records show. The redevelopment plans have not gone ahead.
Locals had campaigned to save the hospital and find other uses for the building other than residential development through the SaveOKH group. The campaign attracted the support of former SBS newsreader Lee Lin Chin who appeared in a video to launch it in 2016.
Kyneton has become one of the trendy hotspots for those looking to move away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but still be able to have a meal at a hatted restaurant.
Kyneton’s Piper Street has become a foodie haunt and even local distilleries have opened, offering the type of cocktails some may have once thought were only made in high-end bars in Melbourne’s CBD.
Mr Nunn said though the hospital had only been listed for a short time, it had already garnered a lot of interest from buyers wanting to turn the former hospital into a wedding venue or even an Airbnb short stay rental.
The hospital is for sale by expressions of interest, which close at 5pm on May 7.
As is stated, Mark Nunn of Buxtons Ballarat can be contacted for an inspection of the property. Expressions of interest will be accepted up until 5pm on May the 7th.
We wish this wonderful old building a bright future. But again it is another example of our magnificent heritage facing a significant challenge. As is evidenced by the demolition of the beautiful home we spoke of in Armadale back on August 24th 2018 at 34 Armidale St, there isn’t always a positive result – as reported in the Herald Sun dated the 2nd of April 2019. Often we don’t win, and these magnificent buildings are lost forever. So pass the word on, this is one property (Kyneton District Hospital) that simply must be saved.
Heritage – It’s who we are and where we come from.