The addition of three places to the State Register of Heritage Places will cement Albany’s reputation as a heritage hotspot and help boost tourism, supporting the creation of jobs and boosting the local economy.
Albany’s Wesley Church Group – including a church, manse, and three halls – is an excellent example of a church complex designed in a variety of gothic architectural styles.
The church group has strong community significance as the hub of Methodism in the region, as well as ties to many prominent citizens who contributed at various times to its physical and social development.
The church itself was constructed between 1889 and 1891, as Albany’s population boomed following the opening of the Great Southern Railway. A telling sign of the optimism in Albany at the time, it was built to seat 450 people despite only having 33 members.
Notable architects and builders of the church group include architects Alfred M. Bonython (church, 1891), George Johnston (manse, 1903), James Hine (Albert Hall, 1914), and Harold Smith (Kindergarten Hall, 1958), as well as builders Charles Layton (manse, 1903), and Alexander Thomson (Albert Hall, 1914).
Today, the Wesley Church Group remains in use for various church purposes including worship and community events.
The former Albany State School comprises an intact group of public school buildings including a Headmaster’s house and former garden, and was developed to cater for Albany’s growing population during the 1890s gold boom in Western Australia.
The primary school and infants school were designed in the Federation Arts and Crafts style, and the primary school, designed by prominent Perth architect George Temple Poole in 1895, includes a fine example of a large central hall of exceptional design quality.
The school buildings form a significant precinct in the historic centre of Albany, and the adjacent Alison Hartman Gardens that were once part of the early layout of the school, contribute to the historic streetscape of York Street.
The Albany Co-operative Society Building was purpose-built in 1870 by P&O Shipping agent William Clifton. The building housed one of Australia’s first ever co-operative societies.
Mr Clifton established the member-owned society in 1867 to improve the welfare of the company’s employees, who could not afford the high cost of basic provisions in Albany.
Three years later, the Albany Co-operative Society Building was constructed by local carpenter and builder John Underwood Green, on the corner of Frederick and Spencer streets.
A freestanding, two-storey granite and brick structure – designed predominantly in the Victorian Regency style – it included a manager’s residence, store and shop.
Since the co-operative’s closure in 1883, the building has been used as a railway barracks, guest house, and storage facility for the Albany Historical Society.
In 2017, the City of Albany completed extensive conservation works to restore the building to its original form.
Image: Wesley Church, Albany. Credit: Hughesdarren [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons