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Auburn Uniting Church,
Oxley Road, Hawthorn

The former Wesleyan Methodist Church complex in Oxley Road, which comprises the Church, Sunday school, parsonage and caretaker's cottage, was constructed between 1888 and 1890 from the competition winning designs of the prolific architect of Wesleyan properties, Alfred Dunn. It is architecturally significant as the best example of Lombardic Romanesque church design in Australia.

The Church and steeple, opened on 12 September 1889, is a local landmark being visible from miles around. Many people have looked on with interest over the past two years as the tower has been painstakingly restored. The complex is significant for its early associations with Wesleyan Methodism, an important religious congregation in colonial Victoria, and with the influential Hawthorn Methodist circuit. With one of the largest Church memberships, this circuit had the finest set of properties in Victoria and was responsible for the foundation of MLC, a leading girls' school.

The dominant element of the Church is the corner tower of massive proportions. This rises in five stages from a stone plinth. The lower three levels emphasise the squareness of the tower with a solid wall character penetrated by few openings. Then above, the corners change from square pilasters to circular columns to become turrets as the fourth stage empresses the roof. Between the stripped corner columns are a double row of slender light columns supporting a brick arcade above. This occurs on four sides to provide a light balance to the solidity below. The spire of softened pyramidal form is embellished by gables on each side and capped by a tall metal finial.

The body of the church is a gabled affair with a prominent first floor denoted by the flanking balconies. Entry is through a central colonnade entry supporting a decorated rendered pediment. On the side elevation the large transept window occupies two stages. The whole design is embellished by two-tone brickwork in Hawthorn brown and red.

You are invited to climb the tower and see your own homes, other Boroondara landmarks and the city skyline from one of the highest vantage points in the eastern suburbs. Photography is permitted.

Reaching the tower arcade viewing area involves climbing some steep steps, and we regret that access is not available for the disabled or for infants. Sensible footwear and clothing (trousers or shorts) should be worn. Even if heights are not for you, come to the Church and discover its history, with the aid of notes and displays.